Low CSR presence in clean energy, says new study

January 09, 2018

New Delhi: Samhita Social Ventures, a CSR consulting organization, today released their latest report “Energizing Development” which analyses the CSR efforts of India’s leading companies promoting energy access in India. The report has been developed with support from Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Key findings of the report showcase that while CSR programs in education, sanitation or skills and livelihood have seen a dramatic increase since the mandatory CSR rules came into effect, there still remains very thin corporate participation in implementing CSR programs in clean energy and energy access.

The report states that only 39 of the 100 companies with the top CSR spends (out of the BSE 500 list) reported CSR involvement in the clean energy space with most popular interventions being Solar Street Lights, Solar Lamps, Mini Grid/Solar Plants and Smokeless Stoves for the rural communities.

The report also revealed that companies in Power, and Oil and Gas sectors were most likely to support clean energy projects, aligning their CSR spends to their business and creating social good based on their core competencies. These were followed by the manufacturing and heavy engineering industry, which implemented interventions in communities around the location they operate in.

Priya Naik, CEO, Samhita Social Venture said, “The market potential and expanse of the Clean Energy Sector has been discussed and emphasized by many. However, CSR participation still remains low and sparse. Furthermore, the structuring of CSR programs in this sector often lacks a holistic and catalytic approach which then impedes the delivery and scope of these programs and hinders impact.”

Highlights from the Report:

Low CSR presence in Clean Energy: Of the 100 companies, only 39 had programs in clean energy. This is a significant difference given almost 90% of the companies have a CSR program in education, sanitation or skills and livelihoods.

Popularity of product-based approaches: Among the 39 companies that were involved in clean energy, the majority focused on product-based solutions. 20 out of 39 companies installed solar street lights in rural areas and 18 distributed solar lamps or lanterns for household use.

Solar is the preferred form of Renewable Energy in CSR programs: 37 out of 39 companies who ran CSR Programs in Clean energy utilized Solar Energy.

Geographical Mismatch: While the need for interventions (specific to the Energy Sector) is highest in Bihar and Meghalaya, the CSR participation remains inadequate in comparison. Karnataka and Maharashtra, which face relatively low energy gaps, have a high proportion of companies implementing access to energy programs via CSR. A few states such as Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh saw a high need matched by high CSR activity.

Corporate Sustainability Continues to Grow: The report revealed that 88 companies out of 100 reported energy efficiency measures as part of their internal operations and sustainability agenda.