NEST won an Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy in 2005.

NEST is a private company based in Hyderabad, India, which was set up to develop a very small solar lantern, the ‘Aishwarya®’, as a safe substitute for the kerosene wick lamp. Over 65,000 lanterns have been produced and distributed during the past five years.

It is estimated that in India alone, about 100 million households use kerosene wick lamps as their main source of light. Such lamps produce poor quality light and unhealthy fumes, and present a serious fire risk particularly when used in thatched homes. Fluorescent lamps with batteries recharged using solar photovoltaics (PV), can provide much better quality and safer light, but the cost of such a lantern can be prohibitive.

NEST have brought down this cost, by making a PV lantern which is small and light-weight, with strict attention to quality of manufacture. By working closely with a network of dealers and sub-dealers, through whom they provide credit, spares and support, they have enabled very poor people in the most remote villages to buy PV lanterns without subsidies. Over 75% of the Aishwarya lanterns produced by NEST have been sold in this way, throughout the states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The Ashden judges commended NEST for developing an attractive and high-quality lantern specifically for the poorest households, and setting up a financial and service structure which enables such households to purchase without subsidy and receive proper after-sales support. These achievements were made possible by effective management within NEST and their active links with subcontractors and their dealership network.