In India, the issues of energy access and climate change are inextricably linked. If the 200 million people in India without access to electricity receive their energy from clean renewable sources, India will make a vital and positive contribution to the struggle against climate change. This report represents a first step in exploring how the country’s large and diverse religious sector can play an important role in addressing these two interconnected challenges.

Indian religious and spiritual institutions command significant moral authority and have a large civil society presence. If engaged and equipped properly, they could play a transformative role in ending energy poverty in India. Their potential impact, however, has received very little sustained attention from regional and national governments, the renewable energy, energy access and social entrepreneur sectors, and funders.

Following a 2017 consultation in Mumbai between religious leaders and social entrepreneurs in the field of energy access, in 2018, the Bhumi Project and GreenFaith engaged EPG Economic and Strategy Consulting to conduct a modest, initial survey of the renewable energy efforts of Indian religious and spiritual institutions. The aim was to identify renewable energy efforts and trends in the Indian religious sector, to identify any involvement by Indian religious institutions in the area of energy access, and to determine further research and action steps in these areas.

Over a six month period we researched 30 Indian religious and spiritual institutions, distributed across the country, which had initiated some form of renewable energy and/or sustainability initiative. These institutions were from the Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Sikh and Christian communities, along with a number of non-denominational spiritual organisations. The stories we gathered offer insights on how one of Indian society’s most culturally influential sectors can make a far greater contribution to closing India’s energy access gap.

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