Nearly 60% of commercial and residential consumers in India favour solar as a future power source, according to market analyst firm Mercom Capital.

However, the renewable energy industry is missing opportunities to sell solar and other technologies to customers as an alternative to expensive fossil fuels.

A survey by Mercom to gauge public attitudes towards renewable energy found overwhelming frustration with power cuts in India, with 94% of commercial respondents saying a steady power supply would improve their businesses.

Mercom interviewed 1,700 commercial and residential consumers in the survey.

Of the business users interviewed, 65% said they relied on a diesel back-up generator during power cuts, and almost all expressing the desire for a reliable power supply.

Mercom CEO and co-founder, Raj Prabhu said: “Not only is this a significant finding, but it is a wake-up call and erases any doubt of the impact power cuts are having on businesses. Improving the power shortage situation is urgently needed if we want to see greater economic growth in India.”

Solar enjoyed a relatively positive response in the survey, with 58% of respondents saying they strongly favoured it as a future energy generation source, and almost half saying it was “very important” for India to generate more solar power.

However, with almost three-quarters of respondents saying they favoured consistent power over low-cost power, and around half expressing a neutral position on coal or nuclear energy, the survey suggested some ambivalence over solar as the answer to India’s power problems.

This was underlined by a general lack of awareness of solar subsidies in India, with only 60% of commercial respondents claiming to know anything about the country’s government-backed renewable energy programmes.

Prabhu said: “Though solar was the most recognised energy source, favourability numbers weren’t as high as they could be. Coal, on the other hand, had a high percentage of neutral and no opinions.

“Generally we found a lot of opportunities for the renewable energy industry to invest in educating and informing consumers and differentiating renewables from fossil fuels in a country that is hungry for power of any kind.”

India’s new prime minster, Nadendra Modi, has promised to prioritise solar as a means of electrifying impoverished parts of the country.

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