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Supporting development of clean energy strategies in India

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Elizabeth Gogoi

The Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation ('Shakti') in India provides grants to aid the design and implementation of policies that encourage energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable transport solutions. Established in 2009, Shakti has witnessed a significant evolution of the policy, institutional, and technological environment for clean energy in India. We supported Shakti to carry out a strategic review to ensure the relevance and impact of its work.

The challenge

Shakti’s original strategy was adopted in 2011, defining the theory of change, delineating sectoral goals for 2020 and 2030, and driving annual plans. The underlying assumptions around the external environment which informed this strategy had changed considerably nearly a decade later.

By 2018, the Government of India was striving for global leadership on climate change, and proactively engaging in UNFCCC negotiations and the Montreal Protocol. There were ambitious targets for renewable energy in place, as well as new political priorities for the Government and the public. The Paris Climate Agreement, and India’s commitments under it, provided a new overarching structure to India’s climate policy, as well as a new accountability mechanism, and a 2050 timeframe.

At the same time, the price of renewable energy and clean technology had dropped considerably, and there were now a range of technology options available. For these and other reasons, there had been major advances in the adoption of climate policy, the availability of clean energy finance, the deployment of clean power, and energy efficiency, as well as developments in sustainable transportation.

However, significant barriers remained in achieving the Government’s own targets for renewable energy, climate change, and energy efficiency. In addition, the potential for further scaling up remained unrealised, in part to limited institutional capacity for implementing national policies, particularly at the sub-national level, the financial health of the power sector, and technological constraints to increase level of renewables on the grid.

Our approach

We facilitated a participatory process to refresh the Shakti’s strategy. The updated document provided a vision for what Shakti will achieve by 2022, 2030, and 2050, and the pathway to achieving this impact, given the recent changes in the operating context and future changes predicted. To support this vision and implementation plan, we helped each team in preparing a thematic plan of action and thus contributing to the wider results framework.

We conducted the following activities to support the development of new strategy:

  • Produced a landscape assessment to understand the key barriers and enablers to clean energy in India, including a summary of what has changed over the previous 10 years (and why) and build a baseline scenario of some of the key trends in the clean energy sector until 2050
  • Carried out in-depth interviews with key stakeholders to understand the Foundation's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks
  • Facilitated a workshop for all staff to unpack the opportunities to further strengthen the impact of the Foundation’s work, as well as the efficiency of its operating entity
  • Worked with senior staff in Shakti to prepare the new strategy document
  • Supported each programme team, and facilitated six workshops to develop theories of change for each sector, and indicators within a results framework

Outcomes and wider impacts

The strategic refresh process provided Shakti with an updated, relevant, and ambitious vision and implementation pathway for the medium- to long-term.