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In India, solar-power projects, often funded by microcredit institutions, are helping the country reduce carbon emissions and achieve its goal to double the contribution of renewable energy to 6 percent, or 25,000 megawatts, within the next four years.

Off-grid applications such as solar cookers and lanterns, which can provide several hours of light at night after being charged by the sun during the day, will help cut dependence on fossil fuels and reduce the fourth biggest emitter’s carbon footprint, said Pradeep Dadhich, a senior fellow at energy research institute TERI.

Sewa, or Self Employed Women’s Association, is among a growing number of microfinance institutions in India focused on providing affordable renewable energy sources to poor people, who otherwise would have had to stand for hours to buy kerosene for lamps, or trudge miles to collect firewood for cooking.

SKS Microfinance, India’s largest MFI, offers solar lamps to its 5 million customers while Grameen Surya Bijlee (Rural Solar Electricity) Foundation helps fund lamps and home and street-light systems for villagers in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

The Aryavart Gramin bank has approved loans for the installation of 8,000 solar-home-systems in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state and a key grain growing region.

With only 40 percent of the country’s people having access to electricity, microfinance institutions such as Grameen Bank have made a major push towards expanding the use of solar power.

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