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Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar

Post Graduate Program in Rural Management, 2007-2009

Course: Natural Resource Management

Instructor: Prof. C. Shambhu Prasad

“Lighting a Billion Lives- LaBL”

Submitted by :-

Sumendera Punia (Roll No.-55)

Vishal Kumar (Roll No. -59)

LaBL (Lighting a Billion Lives)
“AsatoMaa Sat Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityor Maa Amritam Gamaya”

“Oh Lord! Lead me from the unreal to the Real, from darkness to Light, from mortality to Immortality”

How many India are there? While one is striding at a very fast pace riding on the growth of Information
Technology, Manufacturing, etc, the other is left behind in the hands of darkness. These are two faces of
the same country. When one end is struggling to arrange a day’s meal the other is driving a Mercedes
Benz. One is enjoying the chilled environment of an Air conditioned room, the other doesn’t have access
to light.
It is the disheartened fact that 1.6 billion people are living in darkness; of which 400 million are from
India (we have crossed 60 years of our Independence one year back.) According to government data, 76
million rural households in India lack access to electricity. Of this, 65 million use kerosene, Wax candles
and dung cakes, firewood, and crop residue bio-mass for lighting. Each household for that spend around
Rs. 2to 5 per day. What they get in turn is low level of illumination in company with smoke and fire
hazards due to accidental pilfering of kerosene and tipping of candles.
Global status Report on renewable energy resources-2007 says Grid connected solar Photovoltaic (PV)
has been the fastest growing (50% annually) energy technology worldwide. Germany, Japan, Spain, and
USA are the leading nations in harnessing solar energy for fulfilling energy needs. Out of total 25 lakhs
solar homes worldwide 3.6 lakhs are in India second to China having 4 lakhs. Over the years reasons for
the lack of capacity expansion in power generation is the revenues earned are lesser than the cost of
operation. This weakness in energy supply causes loss of economic and social welfare of large section of
The sun is a giver of life. Our ancient rishis composed hymns in praise of the sun god. Sunlight was used
by early Greeks, Native Americans, and Chinese to heat their buildings. Solar energy drives the climate
and weather and supports virtually all life on the earth. Heat and light from the sun, along with solar-
based resources such as wind and wave power, hydro electricity and biomass, accounts for over 99.9% of
the available flow of renewable energy.
Nearly 3850ZJ (zeta-joules, one Zeta joule=1021 joules) of solar energy is available every year. At any
given point of time, the earth’s upper atmosphere receives 174 peta-watts (3.5 peta-watt=1015 watt) of
incoming solar radiation (insolation). About 6% of the insolation is reflected and 16% is absorbed when it
enters the atmosphere Solar power is used to refer to the conversion of sunlight into electricity. This can
be done either through the photovoltaic effect or by heating a transfer fluid to produce steam to run a
generator. India has favourable natural conditions for large-scale harnessing and deployment of solar
energy. Despite these favourable conditions, out of the total energy consumption of nearly 120 GW per
annum, only a small fraction is generated through solar energy. In our country, so far the solar energy
equipment has been focused towards rural, un-electrified areas as off grid applications. Large-scale solar
farms coupled with a promising feed in tariff initially would be a right combination to kick starts the
The solar lantern, a portable lighting device that uses CFL, has its own rechargeable battery inside that
can be charged every day using an 8to 10 watt solar panel. This is an ideal device to light up homes that
currently use biomass or Kerosene for lighting. About 5.8 lakh solar lanterns have been distributed in
India in the past 7 to 8 years under the program of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, but its
penetration is miniscule considering the size of the population.
Lighting a Billion Lives - LaBL (A TERI initiative):-
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi had launched the Lighting a
Billion Lives Programme (LaBL) to provide light to “billion lives” in India and abroad. It had developed
solar lanterns that are currently working in seven Indian states. These solar lanterns can benefit 65 million
households and eventually reduce 5.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide gas emissions from kerosene
Objectives:- To bring light( LIFE) into the lives of one billion people by implementing the initiative in
selected villages in the NGO’s region of work across the world in turn displacing the kerosene and
Paraffin lanterns with solar lighting devices, there by facilitating:-

 Education of children.
 Providing safer illumination and kerosene smoke free indoor environment for women to do
household chores.
 Providing opportunities for livelihoods.

The scope of this Lighting a Billion Lives initiative is as follows:-

1. Design and development of the solar lantern charging station for the target villages by TERI.
2. Identification of villages, site and location for implementing the package. The solar lantern
charging station will act as the centralized location from where the lanterns can be rented out to
the end users.
3. Identification of local entrepreneur who will be mainly involved in day-to-day operations of the
solar lantern charging station.
4. Installation of the solar lantern charging station in the identified location.
5. Development of appropriate business model with provision of training and capacity building for
the local entrepreneur.
6. Awareness generation among the communities on the benefit of the solar lantern and its potential
use for the various livelihood generation activities.
Delivery Model: -

This whole model for the campaign is a fee-for-service model, where solar charging
stations are set up in villages for charging the lanterns and providing them on fee-for-service (or rental)
basis to households and enterprises on a daily basis. The charging stations are operated and managed by
local entrepreneurs who are selected and trained on technical, operational and daily book keeping
accounts by TERI in association with its grass-roots level partners and other like-minded institutions such
as NGOs, community-based organizations, educational and charitable trusts, local government units, self-
help-groups, and micro-finance institutions. These institutions, identified as campaign anchors, play a
significant role in coordinating, sustaining, and advancing the campaign.

Scope Scope Details TERI NGO Local Entrepreneur

1 Design and development of Solar P
Lantern Package
2. Identification of the village, Site P
and location for the development
of Stations
3. Identification of Local P
4. Installation of Solar Charging P S
5. Development of Business models S P
6. Development of capacity building P S
of local entrepreneurs
7. Awareness generation among the S P S
local communities
8. Business expansion and marketing S P

*(P= primary organization that will be involved, S=Secondary organization that will be involved, along
with the primary organization in the respective scope.)

NGO’s will facilitate TERI in identification of villages and suitable location of solar lantern charging
stations. Similarly for finding out potential people who can be trained for operating these stations. They
will also assist TERI and local entrepreneurs for developing business model and overall monitoring by
TERI for the identified station. After selection of the site, the local anchor point and the local
entrepreneur, the charging station is licensed. The event is followed by several focus group discussions
with the village elders, women, children, representatives of the local self-government and others. The
purpose of the discussions is to spread the awareness among the end-users on the benefits of the solar
lantern and its potential use in livelihood generation.

Availability of land and building (Fixed assets) will be ensured by locally selected entrepreneurs. They
will be held accountable for any mismanagement (damage to the hardware and security breach) in day to
day operations and monitoring processes at local level. They have to abide by the terms and conditions of
the agreement with local NGO.
Implementation Schedule: -

Activities Durations (Weeks)

Month 1 Month 2
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
First level talks and paper works
Identification of the village, Site and location
Identification of local Entrepreneur
Installation of Lantern Charging Station
Capacity building of the NGO/
Process of renting and monitoring starts

Guidelines for the village selection in LaBL Project are:-

 Village should be easily accessible at all the time.

 Village may be electrified, de-electrified or un-electrified but the felt need for the usage
of solar lantern must be there at household level and also at entrepreneur level (e.g.
village haats, shops etc.)
 Felt need should be for at least 15-20 days in a month and household should be willing to
spend Rs.2-5 per day for taking the lantern on rent.
 The Model would possibly be more successful in village which already has ongoing
entrepreneurial activities, presence of self-help groups or any other livelihood and rural
development program me.
 Villagers must have the willingness and the capacity to pay changing.

The key stakeholder in the campaign plays the most important role in advancing the cause of the
campaign. He/she uses the illumination from the solar lantern to facilitate his/her daily activities and also
empowered to facilitate the education of his/her children, initiate livelihood activities, and have better
access to health and sanitation facilities. The user pays a rental to the entrepreneur for managing the
charging station. The campaign follows a stringent monitoring and verification model. At the ground
level, the entrepreneur is responsible for maintaining daily record of his/her business. This data is
compiled monthly and sent to the campaign anchor, who in turn will send the data to TERI. A central
database is maintained at TERI and is used to monitor the various aspects of the campaign. A part of the
data will also be available through the LaBL website.

Socio-economic benefits: -
The local Entrepreneur running the village model earns decent Income from its operations-
Livelihood opportunity creating the financial opportunities for the entrepreneur. Thus apart from
providing reliable and ensured lighting to households at an affordable rate, the Campaign also facilitates
entrepreneurial development among rural communities.
This campaign provides excellent opportunity for public-private-people-partnership (P4) wherein the
private sector can enhance the effectiveness of developmental schemes of the government, particularly in
health, education and livelihoods sectors, by providing lighting through the LaBL. For instance, the
government supports the rural health workers; a solar lantern will help them in doing their duties
effectively, particularly when attending to medical emergencies at night. Similarly, the hostels for tribal
children which are funded under the universal education programmes of the government can be equipped
with solar lanterns to help children in studying at night. The community, represented by the entrepreneur
and users of lantern, in turn, can contribute towards operation, maintenance and sustenance of the

Financial Viability: -

The LaBL campaign runs on a sponsorship and partnership model, wherein TERI seeks
donations from likeminded individuals and organizations to cover the cost of the solar lantern. An
individual can sponsor one solar lantern while an organization can sponsor the entire village (package of
50 lanterns) at a contribution of Rs 3600 and Rs 3, 00,000 respectively. With a fee-for-service delivery
model a solar charging station is set up by TERI which is operated and managed by a village
entrepreneur. This not only provides an employment opportunity but also makes the overall process
sustainable. The entire cost of setting up the solar panels, equipments, training to the entrepreneur is
borne by TERI.

What makes TERI believe in the success of the project is that a rural household would be willing to spend
Rs 2-5/day for using the solar powered lamp. This is derived from the fact that an average rural household
consumes 4-5 liters of kerosene per month. This amounts to 5*Rs 10 = Rs 50 a month. As per the
implementation strategy of LaBL, the village should have sufficient number of people willing to use the
lantern for 15-20 days on an average. The charge for renting the charged lantern depends upon the
population of the village. As per the website of TERI the implemented areas have 354 household on an

LaBL implemented areas

State Household Population Remarks
Dupali AP 875 5000 Electrified\Erratic
Berakuchi Assam 85 448 Unelectrified
Daskin Dimoria Assam 225 1213 Unelectrified
Sahsoul Bihar 115 580 Unelectrified
Jhamvu Vas Haryana 188 1203 Electrified\Erratic
Chapri Jharkhand 150 1000 Electrified\Erratic
Chakdoha Jharkhand 150 600 Unelectrified
Mahtabera Jharkhand 71 404 Unelectrified
Bagapatia Orissa 78 392 Unelectrified
Khasadiha Orissa 60 256 Unelectrified
Kusabenti Orissa 69 305 Unelectrified
Banganga Rajasthan 96 780 Unelectrified
Jodhula Rajasthan 108 951 Unelectrified
Harendranagar Bengal 741 3923 Unelectrified
Gangadharpur Bengal 1116 5777 Unelectrified
Govindorampur Bengal 1096 5734 Unelectrified
Daksin West
Kashiabad Bengal 811 4031 Unelectrified
Average 354.94118 1917.47059
Illustration- 1

If we compute the expenditure of a family for solar lantern for 20 days it amounts to 20*3= Rs 60. This
cost is more than what he was incurring on kerosene for a month. The remaining 10 days will also add to
his expenditure. However the solar lantern brings in the intangible benefits of better lighting and clean
ambience. Thus individuals can work for longer hours while the children can study for longer hours and
that too in a smokeless environment.
a) TERI- The infrastructure cost of setting up the project in a village is between Rs 2.5 – 3 Lakhs.
This includes the cost of solar lanterns, solar panels, charging equipments, batteries etc. Each
village has 50 lanterns to be given on a rent. The amount charged for renting the lanterns is
shared between TERI, local NGO and the entrepreneur. Assuming that TERI gets 80% of the
revenue earned from a village where on an average Rs 3 is charged for renting the lanterns the
break even will come only after 5 years

Installation cost/village = Rs 2, 50,000

Total lanterns in a village = 50

Rent per lantern/day = Rs 3

Total Rent collected/day = Rs 150 (Assuming all lanterns are rented)

Revenue collected/year = 150*30*12

= Rs 54,000

Share of TERI = Rs 43,200 (80% of revenue)

Break even in years = 2, 50,000/43200

= 5.78 years

Illustration – 2

b) Individual Household: - Going by the expectation of TERI a household will shelve Rs 720/year
for availing the benefits of the project. Thus in 5 years he will shelve out Rs 3600 for lighting
purposes. Given that organizations like NEST India* and SELCO** providing the solar lantern
along with the solar panel close to Rs 1500, the individual can not only own the lamp but also
save a potential Rs 2100 during the same period.

*NEST India-

Both NEST and SELCO is Ashden award winner, for sustainable renewable energy solution
Moreover with the Rural Electrification and other competitors like SELCO and NEST also in
the renewable energy space it will be interesting to see the financial feasibility of the project
on a long term.

Technical Feasibility: -

The LaBL project uses a solar lantern which has two lighting options, CFL for
evening operations and LED for overnight operations. On an average it can provide 4-5 hrs of CFL
lighting. The lantern is easy to use and is robust to last longer. However one constraint of the project is
that it is dependent on good weather conditions. Since the solar panels are mounted on the roof top, rough
weather conditions can damage the panels. Similarly cloudy conditions can too affect the smooth

With the government pushing hard to eliminate the rural and urban divide a major thrust is on
telecommunications. With the emergence of mobile industry this seemingly impossible task seems to be
achievable. The LaBL project could have added towards this initiative by providing some mechanism
wherein one could recharge his mobile phone through the solar lantern. This could have impacted the
information flow in the village to a great exchange thus adding one more feather to its cap. Easy access to
information can improve socio-economic conditions to a great extend, thus increasing the impact of the
LaBL project.

The program is being implemented in coordination with the local NGO. The NGO is responsible for
identification of a potential entrepreneur and then TERI provides the necessary technical training and
skills to handle the operations. This extends over two weeks after which the entrepreneur takes over
completely. Monthly reports are maintained and send to TERI by the local entrepreneur.

The servicing of the LaBL lamps would be done by TERI, however not much information is available. On
the other hand organizations like SELCO and NEST have devoted service centers which do a regular
check every 3 months. The presence of SELCO and NEST is however restricted to South India.
Competitive Analysis: -

The LaBL project is fundamentally different as compared to most Solar

lantern project being implemented or sold in India. No Solar Power project has gone to the extent
of a rented model. However being the first in the country LaBL can have the first move benefit.
Competitors can follow suit. No marketing survey so far has ever tried to look into the major
criteria for designing the Solar Lamp as per the customers need. However the LaBL solar lantern
tries to answer the different needs of the consumer as it has the provision of CFL and LED. CFL
mainly used for studying, evening work etc, while the LED is used for just providing light to
carry out daily chores i.e. Cooking, sweeping etc.

The Joint research teams of JIMT (Jaganaath Institute of Management and Technology) &
University of Illinois have come up with a specially designed solar lantern which will be
available at Rs 950; however there is a constraint that it only provides LED lighting, which gives
low light. However the project has not yet been commercialized but it has been patented by the
students who intend to produce it under their own organization.

Other commercial manufactures of solar lanterns are already selling lanterns to the rural areas
and are at the same time providing them with after sales-service (SELCO). They have set up
service centers to cater the after sales service and support.

“The rent for service model is not new in India. Local entrepreneurs have been using solar panels to
recharge the batteries and rent it out to Vendors for their evening operations. However these
operations have been confined to better off states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh etc. SELCO has
some customers who have used the solar panels for similar activities“. LaBL has used these ideas
from various sources to come up with the fee-for-service model that includes the rent for the lamp.

A brief of the organizations into the solar lantern business is given as follows: -

SELCO India: - It is a Bangalore based organization and it’s Managing Director Mr. Harish
Hande, has won the Social Entrepreneur award 2007 given by the Nand & Jeet Kemaka
Foundation. SELCO, a social enterprise, provides sustainable energy services to under-served
households and businesses in India. Through its 25 energy service centers in India, SELCO has brought
reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable electricity to more than 75,000 homes and
businesses since 1995. From solar lighting and electricity, to clean cooking and wireless communications,
SELCO aims to empower its customers by providing complete packages of product, service and
consumer financing, in a very holistic manner. They have not only spread awareness about the benefit of
using Solar Lanterns but have also convinced bankers for the giving out loans to customers to buy this

NEST Ltd: - It is a Hyderabad based organization and the winner of Ashden awards 2005. Ashden
awards are also known as the green Oscar award. Nest is a global player as manufacturer and supplier of
solar lighting solutions. Ashden Light Award winning AISHWARYA solar lamp is the flagship brand of
the company. Recently NEST bagged a contract of 1 million lamps to be exported to South Africa. The
lantern manufactured by NEST comes with a price tag in the range of Rs 1200- 1500. It used local agents,
SHGs to sell the lamps. It not only focuses on the rural masses but also the slum dwellers in cities.

university Tata BP
LaBL NEST of Illionoi* Solar SELCO

Solar Panels Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Rent Yes No No No No

CFL Yes Yes No Yes Yes

LED Yes No Yes No No

Warranty NA Yes NA Yes Yes

Lumen 250/15-20 250 15-20 250 250

duration/Charge 4-7 hrs 3-4hrs 6hrs 3hrs

Servicing No Yes No No Yes

Life 10 5 2-3 years 5 5yrs

Cost 3600 1500 950 2600 NA

Tata BP Solar: - Tata BP Solar is a Joint Venture between Tata Power Company, a pioneer in the power
sector and BP Solar one of the largest Solar Companies in the world over the years; Tata BP Solar has
built on this rich lineage to become one of the largest Solar Companies in Asia. Tata BP Solar has the
distinction of obtaining ISO 9001 quality accreditation and ISO 14001 environmental standards
accreditation from BVQI, London. It has a range of product powered by solar energy and the basic entry
price for a solar lantern is Rs 2600. The shop which sells the solar lantern also provides service and each
solar lamp comes with a warranty period of one year. According to the shopkeeper of Tata BP solar shop
in Bhubaneswar, most of the solar lanterns are bought by rural population in remote areas and they don’t
always go for the entry level solar lantern but the higher version priced at Rs 5500.

As per the conversation with one of the officials of TERI, the LaBL project is a social project and
TERI doesn’t get any revenue from the setup. The revenue sharing is entirely between the NGO
and the village entrepreneur. The NGO needs the money for keeping a reserve for the regular
maintenance of the infrastructure. Thus the project should not be assessed from a business
perspective. However it is noteworthy that how long the project runs on sponsorship model.
Thus the assessment has been made to take care of the sustainability of the model. The model
can also create problems at the village level between the NGO and the villagers as only one of
them will get the benefit of managing the setup and using it as a source of revenue. This can
lead to disrepute of the NGO working in the region.
LaBL Globally: -

Besides India and South Africa less developed East Asian countries like Laos, Cambodia,
Indonesia and Myanmar are also to be included soon.

“Rural Indonesia will also be covered under the plan, but we want to implement it first in India,' said Dr
Pachauri, who is also head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the
Nobel Peace Prize with ex-US vice-president and leading environmental activist Al Gore.

Later when successful in India it will be implemented in other countries. Grants and funds have been
constantly pouring in to support the project from across the world. This includes organizations like DFID,
HSBC, and Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation etc who have sponsored for 2-4 villages.

Environmental Benefits: -

The project promises local and global environmental benefits. Each solar lantern with an
average life of 10 years would displace 500-600 litres of kerosene oil, which when burnt would release
1.5 tonnes of CO2. Moreover it would provide better illumination in a smoke free environment. This
would have direct impact on the health conditions. Adding to this the solar lantern saves approximately
200KWh of electricity at the user end, which is translates in 250KWh of electricity at the production end
given the distribution and commercial losses. Thus a solar lantern in its life of 10 years saves about 2.8
tonnes of CO2 to be released in the atmosphere. This carbon savings can also be traded. The issue of
Climate change is getting hot and countries are signing up the agreement one by one. However this can
also bring in economic slump. One way to tackle this problem is to switch to green energy, solar energy
being one of them. Presently Government of India is giving huge subsidy on kerosene of upto Rs 14-
15/litre. This amounts to Rs 500 billion. If the government gradually directs this fund for giving subsidy
on solar projects, this can prove to be more meaningful as 33% of the subsidized kerosene is being used
for adulteration purposes presently. If such a change in policy is brought in it will accelerate the growth of
such projects all across the country. Economic growth will be boosted with longer working hour in
villages. It will also have a large impact on the carbon emissions and improved health conditions in these
Conclusion: -

Not much has been written about LaBL except news regarding it. It is yet to be seen how
the project does performs in the initial years. It would be immature to judge the project as a success or a
failure as it needs more time for such labeling. There is no doubt that this initiative by TERI is need of the
hour and it tries to answer the need of a billion people living in darkness. However its feasibility and
sustainability over a long term needs to be checked. With large differences in socio-cultural and economic
environment it is a challenging task to introduce such project in rural areas. Not only does the project
provides clean and better illumination to the households but also reduces the carbon emissions thus
contributing towards offsetting global warming. Increased government and organizational support can
increase the chances of the project to be a success. If only the government gradually directs the subsidy
on kerosene towards these solar projects, it will increase the probability of the project to reach the needy
household at the right time and right cost.

Last but not the least a positive atmosphere is building wherein technology and management is joining
hands to answer the needs of the energy deprived population in a sustainable manner.

4. Climate Change-Solar energy Lighting up a Billion Lives- The Hindu Survey of Environment-2008
5. Akshay Urja-Renewable Energy-
May- June-2008/ Vol. 1 -Issue-6
9. NEST Solar Lanterns,
10. SELCO Solar Lanterns,
11. SELCO India Ltd,
12. Solar NEST,