The Collective members have come together to speak with one voice to foster decentralised renewable energy (DRE) in India in order to bridge energy access gaps. The idea of the Collective took shape at the Building a Sustainable Energy Future for India: Scaling Up Local Sustainable Energy Models conference in February 2010, when a group of India-based Ashden award winners teamed up with the Confederation of Indian Industries and the Department for International Development. In July 2010, the Collective was launched at the Scaling Up Off-Grid Renewables workshop.

This was followed by a series of three policy round tables in 2011. Policy makers, financial institutions, NGOs and donor organisations discussed innovative and flexible mechanisms to address the barriers to development of DRE in India. In 2011, the Collective actively engaged with the M V Nair Committee to accord priority status to bank lending for household renewable energy (RE) applications. Through 2012 and 2013, Collective members participated in various fora and studies, providing insights on regulations and incentives for off-grid energy, DRE standards and rating, as well as mechanisms to address the manpower void.

In December 2012, the Collective organised a session called Clean Cooking Energy for All, where the discussion underscored the importance of integrating local community priorities in clean cooking energy policies, programmes, and projects.

In February 2013, the Collective was registered formally as a not-for-profit company (under Section 8 (previously Section 25) of the Indian Companies Act).