Case Studies





The Bushlight India Project




Lack of reliable, affordable energy is a major factor inhibiting the development of local economies in many rural areas. In India today many thousands of villages are without access to electricity and are too remote for grid electricity to be considered a technically or economically feasible option. For these villages to be electrified, the only solution is a standalone (distributed generation) power system. In this context, renewable energy technologies offer remote communities the opportunity to generate their own energy without the prohibitive ongoing costs and access difficulties associated with fossil fuels. For such systems to be sustainable and effective in supporting local development, however, communities need to be active partners in the planning process and the supply of energy reliable, affordable and of appropriate capacity.

Since 2002, the Bushlight project has been working with remote Aboriginal communities across northern and central Australia to address these issues. This unique and highly successful project provides reliable renewable sourced energy services to these communities within the context of a comprehensive community engagement and energy planning framework (www. This framework aims to understand communities’ energy needs from a livelihoods perspective and use this understanding to design and install robust renewable energy systems that respond to communities’ livelihood and economic aspirations and constraints and enhance their sustainability. A key aspect of this involves demand side management (DSM) and energy efficiency education and training, supported by specially developed DSM hardware that provide communities with the tools to effectively manage a limited daily energy supply.

This "Bushlight Model" is a proven, highly replicable energy service delivery model developed over a two year period by a diverse group of community engagement and planning specialists, anthropologists, linguists, engineers, RE system designers and resource developers. Based on the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, the model has now been successfully deployed in over 120 remote Aboriginal communities. 

The Bushlight India Project was established to share the successes, skills and experiences gathered through the Bushlight project, with the rural energy sector in India and determine whether the "Bushlight Model" could be succesfully adapted to other social and geographicsl contexts.  Through the project, CAT Projects worked with a network of community organisations and RE industry participants in India, including the Government of India, to develop the Bushlight India Model - an optimised model for remote village electrification. Adapted from the original Bushlight model through a collaborative development process with our partners, the Bushlight India Model was then demonstrated in two remote and geographically distinct villages in India: one in the Sundarbans region of West Bengal, and one in the district of Kalahandi, in western Orissa.

View a video of the Bushlight India Project below.

The Bushlight India Project was managed by CAT Projects and funded by the Australian Government under the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, Renewable Energy & Distributed Generation Taskforce, with approval from the Government of India. It operated from July 2008 to March 2011. Subsequent to recieving the 2011 Northern Division Engineering Excellence Award from Engineers Australia, the project then went on to take out the Sir William Hudson Award at the 2011 National Engineering Excellence Awards, held in the Great Hall at Parliament House. This award recognises the most outstanding engineering project and is the highest accolade for a project-based award that Engineers Australia confers. It represents the very best of the best with the winner celebrated and acknowledged not only here in Australia but around the world.


Lead implementing agency:
CAT Projects
   Address: Desert Knowledge Precinct, South Stuart Highway
PO Box 8044, Alice Springs, NT 0871
Phone: +61 8 89596240
Email: enquiries(at)
Grassroots implementing agencies for the demonstration projects:
Gram Vikas
  Address: Mohuda Village, Berhampur
Ganjam District, Orissa, India, 760001.
Phone: +91 680 2261869
Email: gramvikas(at)
Sundarbans Programme

Address: 54/1B, Hindustan Park, Kolkata
West Bengal, India, 700029
Phone: +91 33 40086583-585
Technical partners:
Tata BP Solar India

Address: 78 Electronics City, Hosur Road, Bangalore
Karnataka, India, 560 100.
Phone: +91 80 4070 2000
West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (an organisation of the Department of Power and N.E.S, Government of West Bengal)

Address: Bikalpa Shakti Bhavan, J – 1/10 EP & GP Block
Sector V, Salt Lake, Kolkata
West Bengal, India, 700 091
Phone: +91 33 2357 5038, 5348
Support & advisory consultants:
Greentech Knowledge Solutions


Address: Regd. Office: 342, Abhiyan Apartments, Plot 15, Sector 12,
Dwarka New Delhi, India, 110078
Telefax: +91 11 45535574
External project documentation and review consultants:
Liby T Johnson & TG Kannan
    Based in Kerala, India. 
Funding Agency:

Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency

This project received funding from the Australian Government as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility for any information of advice contained herein.