SELCO India: Solar energy pioneer ready to scale

India is facing a looming energy crisis. The energy needs of the country’s population cannot be met by conventional energy sources (read: Fossil Fuels). We had mentioned in the space before, the importance of India leapfrogging into renewable sources like solar and wind. As part of the eleventh five year plan, GOI just allocated Rs. 600 crore towards green energy research creating incentives for adoption of renewables.

One company that has taken the lead in the renewables space is Solar Electric Lighting Company (SELCO) India. We had covered SELCO extensively in this space before. The challenge with solar energy is not just the making Photo-voltaic(PV) cells more cost-effective, but also effective financing, distribution, and maintenance of these PV units. The latter is commonly referred to as downstream solar opportunities. Started in 1995, SELCO India claims to have sold, serviced and financed 75,000 solar electric units. Recognizing SELCO’s cutting-edge work in expanding access to energy, its founder Harish Hande was chosen as Indian Social Entrepreneur of the Year for 2007 by the Schwab Foundation in partnership with The Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation.

The challenge for a company like SELCO now is scale. How can the organization move from servicing 80,000 clients to servicing 8 million clients? Making PV units more affordable would be a good start (currently they are priced around Rs. 800). Another key challenge would be building a effective distribution and servicing chain. There is also competition around the corner (which is never a bad thing) – we had mentioned d.light design, a silicon-valley based company with an aggressive focus on India.


14 Responses

  1. dear sir,
    i am looking for various business opportunities in silar energy can you guide me for the same

  2. Sir,
    I want some exposer vist relating to the Solar Light, as i am working in Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSPI) in the post of Development Specialist in Alternative Energy. As i done my PG from IIT Kharagpur

    Niraj Kumar Singh

  3. […] The business is supported by Small-Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund (S3IDF), a pioneering organization supporting small enterprises in India. The technology support comes from SELCO India a leader in affordable solar solutions for the poor (our previous coverage of SELCO is here) […]

  4. solar power is not just important to industrialized countries in their quest to reduce energy independence but green house gases as well. The problem as evident today is even more pressing as limiting exposure to oil price fluctuations relate directly to economic as well as national security concerns as well.

    What makes rneweable energy products exciting from companies like SELCO is they also see, and wisely so, the need and market for developing aras and country’s as well as the way to best serve these markets is clearly going to be solar power.

  5. Also I would like to thank the author on an excellent article on the coming implementation of solar power

  6. Hello TC-I team, SELCO
    It is infact amazing to know about the scale of operation of SELCO on providing solar lanterns , recharging and rental supply. AWAKE- an NGO for women development and entreprenurship would like to train some women entrepreneurs both rural and urban in this . Is it possible to get the right contact person ? and details on manufacture and maintainence of these solar powered lanterns.
    AWAKE- mob: No : 91-9886012026

  7. Hi,
    I am a cable operator and an Internet service provider here in Bangalore.
    Since the Internet needs 24×7 service we are looking at a solar electricity for powering the switches which we have placed near the customer premises. This power issue has become a nightmare here. Hence on the look out for solar, this helps in 2 ways, 1) uninterrupted service 2) reduce power consumption and also Eco friendly.

    If anybody do know whom I can contact, please do let me know
    I can be reached at

  8. am intrested to join in solar energy program .what is the process to join

    thanking you,
    G.kiran kumar

  9. Hi,
    I need to get a detailed idea about the use of solar energy in rural areas. I wish to get an idea about the equipments required for it with their price and the producers’ name and address.

    Thank you.

    Prof. Dr. Mostafa Ashour
    Faculty of Agriculture
    Food Science Dept.
    Zagazig Univ.

  10. […] Schramm and Rohini Nilekani. Looks like they also have an entire day dedicated to clean tech, where Harish Hande, the co-founder of SELCO India will be […]

  11. hai,

    this is TeamLED, LED Foundation, India. it is good and useful information. today, nearly 40 crore / 400 million Indians are waiting for and needs a realiable, trustful, long lasting and useful light to allow them to do thier tasks at affordable cost.

    we, are committed for the cause “LIGHTING INCLUSION”.

    please see our website

    thank you,

    R Praveen Kumar,
    Officer – PR & Admin.
    LED Foundation

  12. […] fact, according to Think Change India, SELCO is ready to scale up. For more information, check out the SELCO website or their case study […]

  13. […] is that they are almost prohibitively expensive for those that they are most likely to benefit. Various companies, academic groups, and even a few private individuals have provided small scale solutions, […]

  14. homemadesolarpanel…

    Many thanks very significantly for the challenging operate to give this sort of very good facts. I will forward your web page to my pals to discover from this beneficial article….

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