Globally, nearly a billion people access health facilities that are unelectrified or are devoid of reliable electricity. Decentralized solar energy has emerged as a solution for powering health facilities, especially in rural and remote parts of the world. This WRI India research explores the role of electricity in various aspects of health service delivery, by evaluating solarized health facilities across Indian states under different ownership, operating, and financing models. The study attempts to understand the barriers that certain interventions face in terms of scalability and what conditions are essential to ensure the sustainability of decentralized renewable energy (DRE) systems in rural health facilities in the long run.


  • The report studied 22 decentralized solar interventions across six Indian states to understand the role of decentralized solar energy solutions in rural health facilities.
  • Solar energy in most cases was a complementary energy solution, rather than displacing the grid or diesel generators. Although positive impacts in terms of electricity reliability and affordability were experienced, they were not quantitatively tracked in terms of energy consumption, energy savings, and emissions reduction.
  • Developing decentralized energy solutions requires analyzing the present and future energy needs of health facilities. Energy-efficiency measures need to be incorporated in the project design phase to optimizing energy demand, rather than being an afterthought.
  • Energy system procurement policies must look beyond the economics and prioritize technological compliance, modularity, and sustainability.
  • An integrated monitoring and evaluation framework can be helpful in broadening the base of local evidence and bringing about financing for achieving multiple SDGs in tandem.
  • Funding should be publicly allocated through convergence of state-specific budgets for heath facility electrification to achieve universal health coverage, with support from corporate social responsibility (CSR) and philanthropic sources for public and not-for-profit health facilities. More importantly, financing efforts should not be limited to just capital costs, but also cover the costs for operations, maintenance, and part replacement over the system’s lifetime.