Empowered by Solar: Women Transforming Lives and Livelihoods

As petroleum and coal costs rise, renewable energy, especially solar power, is emerging as the fastest-growing power source. Solar energy is poised to become the largest source of electricity and, ultimately, overall energy. India has made significant strides in this area, becoming the third-largest producer of solar power globally in 2023, with ambitions to establish itself as a global leader in solar energy.

Solar Power Used for Drying Fruits
In Maharashtra’s Dahanu, Latika Patil, a fourth-generation chikoo horticulturist, has made solar power the primary energy source for her business. The family previously sun-dried the fruits, but inconsistent weather conditions made this method unreliable. They switched to solar dryers, which allow them to maintain a constant temperature of 55 to 60 degrees, preserving the fruit’s nutrients. These solar dryers, protected with high-grade polycarbonate sheets, also shield the fruits from dust.

Latika highlights the profitability of solar drying, which reduces processing time from three or four days to just one and extends the fruits’ shelf life from three months to nine.

Solar Power in Homestays
The use of solar power in homes and homestays is gaining popularity. Homeowners are choosing solar panels over traditional grid electricity, saving significant costs over time. Shalini, a media professional, runs a homestay named ‘Raison D’etre’ in Manali with her husband. They practice sustainable living, and their homestay is powered entirely by solar energy. Even on days with limited sunshine, their solar system meets their needs, storing extra power in batteries for future use.

Solar Lights for Street Shops
Street vendors often face challenges selling their produce in the dark, as customers cannot see signs of spoilage. To address this, Bengaluru-based social entrepreneur Aakarsh Shamanur launched the ‘Be Po-Lite’ initiative, providing 3W solar-powered portable lights to women street vendors. These lights enable them to continue their businesses after sundown and improve their personal lives, helping them with tasks like cooking dinner or assisting their children with homework.

Solar-Powered Roti Maker
A report from the Department of New and Renewable Energy highlights the stories of two women, Joshi and Rosy, who have used solar energy to create successful home-based businesses. After her husband’s death, Joshi started a catering business but struggled with the time-consuming flour milling process. The introduction of solar-operated machinery for flour milling and rolling rejuvenated her business.

Similarly, Rosy Louis Dabale from Agsalkatta village in North Karnataka found success with her solar-powered flour mill, which helped her efficiently run her business and improve her livelihood.

Solar Power for Tailoring
Kaniz Fatima and her husband have been sewing for years, earning a modest Rs 150 per day. In 2020, their lives changed when a charitable organization helped them secure a Rs 15,000 bank loan to install solar panels. This investment doubled their earnings and provided an uninterrupted power supply, symbolizing hope and inspiring others in their village with the transformative power of solar energy.

Shruti Suman

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