India has made an aggressive stated target of 40 GW grid-connected rooftop installations by 2022, and in keeping with that the central government has raised the budget up to INR 50 billion ($768 million).

Lets look at the basics – It is common knowledge that the rooftop projects require high initial capital investment and low operating costs. The typical rooftop project has a size of less than 150 kW, considering constraints on units in cities and crowded urban clusters. The average life of the project is 25 years, where, the debt-equity ratio stands at 70:30. The average capital costs required for 100 kW is INR 5 million. And the installation time averages less than two months, inclusive of the time needed for the various permissions. The only area where permissions are uncertain are the net metering applications, which many state utilities have now started to wake up to and streamline procedures.

The rooftop projects are marked by the average debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) of 1.2 times. The expected equity IRR is moderate, that is, more than 12%, but confirm constant returns to the investor. And if proper bundling, higher ratings, and track record are sustained, then the sector can attract investors looking for continuous flows.

In the rooftop sector, the State Bank of India (SBI) together with the World Bank has sanctioned INR 40.7 billion ($625 million) for grid-connected solar rooftops. Similarly, Punjab National Bank (PNB) has received INR 32.5 billion ($500 million) multi-tranche facility by Asian Development Bank (ADB). IREDA and RBL Bank are also supporting the sector through loans.

Energy Conservation is a subject that has been talked about for years but the biggest problem is that it has been only talked and talked about. Nothing solid on the ground measures have not yet been taken by any of the World’s stakeholders, i.e. The Government, businesses and most importantly the society or the people itself who actually live in the society and exploit the non-renewable resources as if they own it inherently. People working in the metropolitans especially are the ones who are the most responsible for the excessive destruction of the precious resources and yes these people include ME as well! It hurts a lot to say that I am also the one to exploit these resources.

One fine day when I was sitting on my Couch with the Air conditioner turned at 16 degree temperature working on my laptop, I came across a quote by The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi that changed my thought process of how I was ignoring the wasteful use of energy. The quote said “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” The quote took me aback and made me realise that why not try to conserve energy for the future generations to come.

Today, the lifestyle in the big cities has changed and grown by leaps and bounds, which has ultimately led to the excessive and unnecessary use of resources that are not available to the poor or the people living in the villages. The nature has bestowed us with a lot of resources that can be put to good use rather than destroying them at such an excessive rate. If this continues, our kids would not be able to see what oil, gas and other sources of energy were like. If you don’t trust my saying, I can support it with a fact as given by the World Fact Book, which says that the world’s Oil reserves will last until 2052 and Gas reserves will last until 2065 which is an eye opener, at least for me!

So its high time that the so called Corporate Citizens living in their huge apartments, get their facts straight and take a minute out of their busy lives just to think about the generation that is living in the gratuitous state of being as well as the generations to come by just taking a few simple measured that would not even seem so important but would make a big difference if adhered to. These measures may include the basics such as turning off the excessive lights or fans when not in use, rain water harvesting at the time of monsoons, use of solar power panels for which the government even provides various fringe benefits and an additional thing to do is to light up a house of someone who has not seen electricity in his life. As it is said “Karke Dekho, Accha Lagta Hai”.

So just give the issue a thought and if you ever feel even a little urge to do your part for the under privileged, just reach to “Watt A Village”, an NGO working in the direction of Rural Electrification for people who do not have much access to Electricity. You take one step, “Watt A Village” will take 10.

And remember, Always be on the “Energy Saving Mode”.

For most of us living in metros and born in post liberalisation era, “Electricity is our way of life, without it our lives would perish”. A day without electricity is something many of us can’t even imagine, speaking of villages 84.9% of Indian villages have electricity line. The picture thus seems to be rosy one but it isn’t. According to a planning commission report of 2014 as many as 600 million Indians do not have access to electricity. Hardly 46% of rural households have access to electricity and majority of these households receive electricity for one hour per day or less.
A basic reason for this is power is on the concurrent list of Indian constitution. Thus when asked about the abysmal power situation in villages those in government find it easy to pass the buck. The states blame the centre and vice versa but the situation on ground does not change. The peak power deficit-the gap between demand and supply in the summer of 2010-according to the Government’s own calculations was 10.8 per cent. Losses in distribution average over 30 per cent across India. At the Centre, the power, environment, coal and heavy industries ministries have in various ways acted as obstacles to the addition of capacity.
The Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the main advisory body to the Union power minister, has set a target of 100,000 mw of additional power generation in the period of the 12th five-year plan between 2012 and 2017. That is what is needed to meet the power demand of an economy forecast to grow at 9 per cent per annum. Seventy per cent of this additional capacity is to be added through coal-based thermal power but data from last 20 years shows that only an average of 50.5 per cent of overall targets were met in the eighth, ninth and tenth five-year plans between 1992 and 2007.Every major political formation has governed the country in that period none has much to be proud of in terms of performance in the power sector.
Thus to even imagine that villages would be getting adequate power supply over next few decades by expansion of grids or by increasing production would be like building castles in the air, but this situation can be an opportunity for exploring new frontiers. Renewable sources of energy can be a way forward in dealing with this situation, and that too a sustainable one. The amount of untapped potential of electricity generation from renewable resources is very high and effective utilization of same can lead to an “energy miracle”. It can completely overhaul the power sector in India. In long run electrification done through renewable resources is low cost and subsidies provided by government further help in reduction in cost.

If rural areas get adequate electricity, schools can function properly in all seasons unlike the present condition when in winter and rainy seasons low visibility affects their functioning. If there is enough electricity to run a single projector in every school then kids can be taught via smart classes and this could be boon to them in terms of their career.

Off late there has been lot of talk about digital India. There is a long term plan of making most of paper work like ration card, passport etc. and other government initiatives completely online. For the villagers to have access to these facilities they need to get adequate power supply and thus rural electrification becomes even more important.
In the end I would conclude by quoting Gandhi Ji, “India lives in its villages” and so for India as a nation to develop at fast pace in 21st century and for living conditions of our citizens to improve rural electrification is not a choice but a necessity.
And Watt A Village, has been working on the fore front to garner support & spread awareness to bring this issue up. I feel a sense of pride & responsibility in spreading the noble cause far & wide. Do remember to like & share it if you are moved by the cause of rural electrification. Your comments on the issue are most welcome.

A slight mutatis mutandis to a quote given by our beloved Spiderman, “With Great power” comes great Electricity Bill! Yes the original quote was true as well as this connotation holds true in today’s time. Power/Electricity should now be conferred as a status quo that everyone cannot afford, not our backward villages at least. Talking about these villages, here is a startling fact about India, around 412 million Indians have no access to electricity and about 90% of them form part of the rural population. And as disappointing as it is, the irony is that these people are the people who actually feed the rest of the population of India who work in the scorching heat, chilly winters and what not. Should not they be equally eligible for the basic comfort of electricity after the mammoth efforts they put in their fields just to feed the people sitting in their Air Conditioned cubicles doing nothing but manipulations and exploitation of the resources that can be put to a much good use?
It holds so true that “ Our generation is better prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse than an hour without electricity”, then why squander such an important resource which can be used to bring a change in the lives of people who live in the rural ghetto of India. About 668 million or around 70% of the Indians (in 6.4 lakh villages) live in rural areas and continue to use animal dung, agricultural waste and fuel wood as fuel for cooking. They do not have access to even a basic fan or a tubelight.

This is why there is a need to address the conundrum of Rural Electrification as soon as possible. Rural Electrification is basically a paradigm shift of thoughts of concentrating on the need to electrify the villages of India which do not have any access to electricity whatsoever. Hitherto, various programmes have been undertaken by the Government and various other organisations to address this issue but they have not been able to completely absorb the concern because of lack of public support and interest.

As quoted by Thomas Edison in 1931, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

But with the emergence of Solar Power and the benefits one can reap of it, are truly palatable. Solar energy can help Electrify our villages in an efficient way as the solar power is the last resource that is not owned yet, as nobody “taxes” the sun yet! Government has taken steps to tackle this important issue by setting up Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) and various schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Gram Vidyut Yojna, inter alia. But the government and various NGO’s working for the cause need people’s support in view of people taking lead from examples of countries like Costa Rica which became the first country to get all its needs from renewable sources mostly from solar power or from people who have set up Solar power panels on their rooftop providing additional electricity to the grid and thus transferring that extra electricity to the unelectrified villages.

Hence, the cause of Rural electrification needs to be addressed immediately so that maximum can be done for these electricity deprived villages which are of course a part of our beautiful India which shall lead all over the world in the coming years ahead.

So give the cause a thought and start now to be a part of this noble deed as all these initiatives involves full community participation to ensure the success of the endeavors.
Electrify the Villages, Villages will Em”POWER” India. And the world shall say “Watt A Village”.

An article by Sidharth Goel

In 68 years of independence, India has come a long way. Being a democratic setup, the governments did the best they could, given the complexity of the constitutional system.
Here I would like to quote a very interesting statement made by a Chinese agency to defend the ruling Communist Party when asked to compare the monopoly in China with its giant democratic neighbor. The response was, Had China followed a democratic path, “At best, China would have been another India, the world’s biggest democracy by Western Standards, where around 20 per cent of the World’s poorest live and whose democracy focuses on how power is divided.”
Though I am a supporter of democracy & do not completely agree with the above statement, but yes, my views are not very divergent from the ones mentioned in the statement above. After all, Indian governments have performed quite well, considering the ambit of complex & porous public policies. I know, these words are in stark contradiction to the usual bickering doing the rounds. Ironically, I choose to think differently for the topic at hand. I reiterate, the successive Indian governments have done well. But, here is the catch, sadly, that is not enough. India is a difficult country to govern and much more difficult is the law making process. By the time a law on food security is proposed, tabled, debated, negotiated, passed, executed, implemented, half the needy population for which it was meant either succumbs to hunger or gets into unlawful activities to feed their starving kids. It’s grim, but true picture of India. But hey, there is still hope. Since I am writing about it & you are still reading, it’s a worthy initiative to set things right.

Electricity has not been the priority since the very beginning. Why? Because we had much graver problems to deal with. Food, water, shelter, epidemics, children dying in early years. We seemed to have gotten hold of things to a large extent. And, now it’s time for the government to think beyond. Perhaps it is time to electrify the development process in rural India.

Having set the backdrop, I take up the issue at hand about government policies affecting rural electrification. No doubt, REC (Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd.) has been in existence since 25th July, 1969, under the aegis of Ministry of Power. And yes, it has been a long long road for it. It’s primary operation is to provide financial assistance to the power generation, conservation, transmission & distribution. Also, the Government of India has brought about special schemes from time to time. Like NEF (National Electricity Fund) & DDUGJY (Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojna). They are present, but like a sweet mirage. Funding granted to these organizations is huge. Then why are our fellow citizens living in dark? Divining deep into the technicalities, I could zero in on 2 reasons – under-investment & lack of energy accounting. On the contrary, the special focus of the present government is on renewable energy. Paradox ? Not really !! Here is why…
India had an installed renewable energy base of about 20 GW, in 2011 which was around 11 per cent of the country’s total power capacity and accounts for 4 per cent of the electricity mix, further the country’s installed capacity in renewable energy had risen from about 3 percent of the total installed capacity in 2002 to over 11 per cent in 2011. India aims to take it to over 20 per cent in the next decade with a capacity of over 70 GW. This was before the present government came into power. Now, with the announcement of smart cities, the bar has been raised further upwards.
I guess, every dark spot may not be a dead end. It might be the corner just before a bright future.
Maybe I am too optimistic. Let me know. Your praise, criticism, comments are most welcome. Please comment below so that I can further improve upon my categorical articulation. And, if you liked what I wrote, don’t forget to like the post & share it. It is always encouraging to get your views & response.

An article by Vikas Mendiratta

Meera, a resident of Semri Malvalag, in Uttar Pradesh has been living in the dark since she was married, and came into this village, to her husbands home. Her joy knew no bounds, when her home was ‘electrified’ with a solar home lighting system set up that can provide light and fan to her home, when needed. The system can provide light during the evening hours, helping her perform house hold work much more efficiently than before. Her children can study better. Importantly, the overall interaction within the house has improved, and with lighting inside the house, seemingly, the overall standard of living has improved so much.

Ab humare bacche bhi pad likh sakhte hain, aur aage bad sakte hain, humara time to nikal gaya par unko to time accha nikal jawega [Our children can also study at night, and move ahead in their lives, we have lived our lives, but the children have their lives ahead and hopefully that will be much better]


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