As the crowds at the Rio+20 Earth Summit dwindled and attendees left the conference hall late in the day Friday, a small group of people sat around a lunch table in the cafeteria engaged in spirited conversation.
They weren’t talking about the failed negotiations. They weren’t complaining about diplomats, the UN process, or the lack of a strong agreement at the summit. Rather, they were debating the barriers faced by entrepreneurs delivering solar to under-served populations in India.
The group consisted of Carl Pope, former executive director of the Sierra Club; Jigar Shah, former CEO of the Carbon War Room; Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of Eight19, a company developing an off-grid solar lighting and battery system; and Mayank Sekhsaria, co-founder of Greenlight Planet, a firm helping entrepreneurs deploy off-grid solar technologies in India.
“What people don’t understand is that this isn’t about demand for solar, it’s about supply. If you could theoretically service these markets all at once, you’d solve the problem immediately,” said Sekhsaria, describing the different deployment bottlenecks within the off-grid Indian market.
Over the next hour, as world leaders projected on the large television screen at the front ...