In 2013 one of the very moving headlines of BBC was “Indian Village gets Electricity after 65 years, Villagers blame apathy of government for such a state”. These headlines would have definitely hurt the respect of several Indians because they were true but very few would have decided to do anything about it, especially the ones who are responsible for it. The lack of access to electricity in our country which is the basic indicator of rural development does not only show apathy but also the absence of any development needed for a civilisation. In many aspects we Indians are still at the phase of establishing a civilisation be it at the social or economic front, years backwards to our other counterparts.
Over the years several namesake programmes have been launched to bring electrification but they have massively failed. The UPA government after much fanfare had launched the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana in 2005 to bridge the urban gap and bring steady electricity to the rural areas. The scheme had targeted to provide access to electricity to all households by 2010, but it only saw deadline extensions and even provision of free electricity to BPL households was not achieved in any state. Rural electrification is not just to certify villages as being electrified or not but the major challenge is the establishment and maintenance of distribution lines and transformers. Till now the electrification programmes have been only “Show Offs”, achieving targets by grid extensions. One such statistics is that In 1990 , only 40 % of India was electrified as against 75% in 2012 but what is alarming is that even with the sharp growth in rural electrification there is little increase in actual power consumption in rural areas. The faster pace of electrification has not changed the life of an average citizen much. In fact in most states the per capita consumption of electricity has shown a fall. Madhya Pradesh, which has been projected as a model of electrification, with nearly all its villages electrified by 2011-12, shows a fall of 0.4 units in rural per capita consumption of electricity.
As of 31st March 2015 , there are still around 20,000 un-electrified villages in this country, and just to make it clear Un-electrified means that the population in these villages have never even lighted a bulb in their homes. 60% of India’s population lives in the villages , that is around 114 million households. Until and Unless benefits of development are brought to this section of the society, India will always remain just a developing country.
Another major hassle in rural areas is load shedding, in load shedding an entire feeder is switched off for about more than 15 hrs at a time ,which effects hundreds of household at a time. Electricity in rural areas is not only needed for domestic use but also for agricultural purposes. Another issue affecting the villagers is the lack of regular and reliable supply, most villages get the so called single phase power supply whereas most irrigation pumps need a three phase power supply, thus the agricultural output also gets affected.
The need of the hour is meaningful electrification where villages get actual service provision and not constant load shedding, at least as suggested by the Hindu, the government must start with 98 % supply during peak hours, if even this is not met then a village is not typically meaningfully electrified. Energy services are essential for both social and economic progress for a community,nation and society and without it none of the millennium goals can be achieved.
A research paper by a leading NGO, clearly highlights that Access to electricity in rural areas has been regarded synonymous with rural electrification, implemented through the extension of the grid. The problems of high transmission and distribution losses; frequent disruption in supply of grid power, practical difficulties and financial non-viability of extending grid to remote and inaccessible areas; dispersed population in small villages resulting in low peak loads, poor financial health of the state electricity boards, etc. are plaguing the rural electrification programme in India. Furthermore, there is a large body of evidence to show that the centralised system has not been able to balance demand and supply, resulting in inequities and environmental degradation, leaving over 40% of the Indian rural population with no access to power.
With the above said problems the government must work towards concrete solutions where there is better implementation, more monitoring and accountability, Holistic inclusion and Decentralisation of electricity. The New NDA government seems committed to the cause with major funds allocation on their way through the new Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana where they are aiming for separate feeders and funds for both agriculture and rural domestic consumption. Though the Government seems to be on the right track it is still early to comment. In the end the major battle for any government will remain not just to electrify villages but also to energise them.
An Article by Anisha Ahuja
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.
A basic reason for this is power is on the concurrent list of Indian constitution and thus when asked about the abysmal power situation in villages those in government find it easiest to pass the buck the states blame the centre and vice versa but the situation on ground does not improve. 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. In the states, populist governments and spineless electricity regulators have done little to reform ailing distribution networks.
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.
According to a planning commission report of 2014 as many as 600 million Indians do not have access to electricity, only 46% of rural households have access to electricity and majority of these households receive electricity for one hour a day or less.
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 in 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.
Another aspect of this is that to generate electricity through conventional sources- demand in terms of infrastructure required is high, various thermal and nuclear power projects have led to a feeling of resentment and widespread protests in rural areas. Renewable resources have an advantage here as well. A solar panel can fit easily on the rooftop of a house and even for windmills the amount of land required is less as compared to conventional sources. This develops in villagers a sense of confidence that their life is being improved without unnecessary intervention in their lifestyle and thus integrating them into the economic development process is much easier.
Majority of population in villages is farmers and the plight of Indian farmer is known to all of us. 51% of our population is employed in agriculture sector but their contribution to GDP is just 17%. Disguised unemployment is rampant and size of land holdings is only getting smaller; to improve this situation there is an urgent need for workforce to shift from primary to secondary and tertiary sectors. One step necessary for this transition to happen is that kids in rural areas get access to education. 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. This can also help in solving the problem of lack of good quality teachers that plagues the education sector, especially in rural areas. 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 Gandhiji , “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.
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]
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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”.
When I tell people that I think the United States can stop using coal and gas to generate electricity by 2030 (see “All In”), even some of my fellow environmentalists sometimes raise a skeptical eyebrow. True, it doesn’t sound like very much time. But it’s actually longer than we needed to go from Sputnik to conceiving, building, and landing Apollo 11 on the moon.
I’m not saying it will be easy—but it’s most certainly achievable. That’s because, unlike with the Apollo program, we already have the technology: clean, renewable energy. Wind and solar have lifted off and will soon achieve escape velocity.
I understand the skepticism, though, because it’s easy to forget how fast new technologies can spread. At the start of the 20th century, automobiles were exotic and prohibitively expensive. But by the time Henry Ford stopped manufacturing Model Ts in 1927, he had sold 15 million of them, and lowered the price by two-thirds.
What will drive the spread of clean energy technologies is not just that they are cleaner, healthier, and safer. As with the rapid adoption of the Model T, it will be economics. Right now, we can’t afford “business as usual.” The International Energy Agency estimates that for every year the world delays taking significant action to curb climate change, we will have to spend an additional $500 billion down the road.
The specific economic risks posed by climate disruption were laid out in detail this summer in a report from the Risky Business Project, co-chaired by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, retired hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, and former treasury secretary Henry Paulson Jr. (Bloomberg and Steyer have donated money to the Sierra Club through their charities.) Regarding real estate alone, it predicts that if we continue on our current path, between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of existing coastal property will be under the waves by 2050, and up to $507 billion worth by 2100.
Extreme weather is already having an economic impact, which explains why a majority of small-business owners support federal limits on carbon emissions from power plants. The main opposition, not surprisingly, comes from fossil fuel industries. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson admitted at a recent shareholder meeting that climate disruption is real, and that the effects will be severe, but maintained that it was essentially a “risk-management problem.” In other words, ExxonMobil will extract every ounce of oil and gas it can—if we let it.
Another economic reality is that renewables are becoming cheaper much faster than anyone guessed was possible. In just the past three years, the price of solar panels has dropped by more than 60 percent and the per-megawatt-hour price of wind has fallen by more than 40 percent. In places like Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado, wind is cheaper than both coal and natural gas. As clean energy achieves greater economies of scale, this trend will accelerate.
Are there still technological and economic challenges? Absolutely. For example, our current power grid wasn’t designed for renewables. The up-front costs of modernizing it will be substantial—although the payoff is free fuel forever. And let’s not forget that we have to make the transition from dirty fuels while keeping the lights on for everyone and supporting workers in the communities most affected by this transition.
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We can do it, though, and not just because we have the technology and economics on our side, but also because we have the will. The EPA’s new standard to cut carbon pollution has overwhelming popular support. Polls show that 70 percent of U.S. adults agree that the federal government should limit “greenhouse gases from existing power plants in an effort to reduce global warming”—a majority that holds whether you ask Democrats, Republicans, or independents.
As President Obama told an audience of new college graduates this June, “You’re going to have to push those of us in power to do what this American moment demands.” And push we shall.
When is a village termed electrified?
According to the Ministry of Power, a village is termed electrified when –
– Basic infrastructure such as Distribution Transformer and Distribution lines are provided in the inhabited locality as well as the Dalit Basti hamlet where it exists.
– Electricity is provided to public places like Schools, Panchayat Office, Health Centers, Dispensaries, Community centers etc.
– The number of households electrified should be at least 10% of the total number of households in the village.
The important figure here is 10%. An electrified village doesn’t necessarily mean that all its residents enjoy the benefits of electricity, and thus figures representing the number of electrified villages can be misleading.
Why is rural electrification important ?
In rural areas, electricity finds one more important area of deployment that is absent in urban areas and that is mechanization of many farming operations like threshing, milking and hoisting grain for storage. From an Indian perspective, this is extremely important since till this day, approximately 50 percent of the Indian population is dependent on agriculture as their source of livelihood. The novel visions of our Prime Minister won’t see the light of the day until this sector flourishes.
Like education, rural electrification too has manifold effects in the day-to-lives of a rural resident. It frees up significant amounts of human time and labour. Women across villages in India spend hours and hours on procuring water for their families. Imagine the impact it can create if these women can utilize this time spent doing arduous labour for some economic activity!
It also has a direct effect on a community’s daylight hours. People can work longer which translates to better income and better standard of living.
What are some of the positive trends in rural electrification?
Much of this improvement has been attributed to India which witnessed mass migration to powered metropolitan areas. Electrification rates in India in the year 1990 were only 43 percent as opposed to vast improvement to about 75% in 2012.
But picture abhi baaki hai…
While UTs like Lakshwadeep, Delhi and Daman and Dui record electrification rates of over 99%, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar lie on the other end of the spectrum with dismal rates of 37%, 36.8% and 16.4% only. Thus even with decent levels of electrification in the country, the widespread regional disparities are a matter of genuine concern for policymakers and regulators.
In 1990, 40 percent of the world population (2.2 billion people) still lacked power. Nineteen years later in 2009, this figure changed to 18 percent, affecting 1.456 billion people. In terms of percentage of households using electricity as their primary source of lighting, we witnessed an an increase from 55.8% in 2001 to 67.2% in 2011.
What is India’s role in this?
What are some of the policies and programmes adopted by the Indian government?
1. National Electricity Policy 2005
2. National Rural Electrification Policy, 2006
1. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY)
2. Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana
3. Remote Village Electrification Programme
4. Village Energy Security Security programme
5. Minimum Needs Program (MNP)
6. Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana (PMGY)
7. Kutir Jyoti Scheme
8. Accelerated Rural Electrification Programme (AREP)
An Article written by Swati Gugnani
The power and automation technology group ABB will partner with Pact Myanmar to bring electricity in the form of solar power to approximately 3,500 individuals from villages in rural areas of Mandalay, Central Myanmar. With an estimated population of 51 million, Myanmar is a newly emerging country that has a per capita GDP of only around US$1,105, one of the lowest in East Asia and the Pacific. At present, over 75 percent of inhabitants have no access to electricity of any form and rural communities account for two thirds of the total population. The project was announced as the first round-the-world solar flight, Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), made its landing in Mandalay, Myanmar. ABB is the technology partner of this pioneering airplane, which can fly both day and night powered only by solar energy. The project involves establishing solar battery charging stations to be run by women’s groups in remote villages in the Tada Oo township. Power from the stations will be sold back to communities, thus bringing economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship to the townships. Financial support will also be provided for villages to purchase photovoltaic equipment at the community level. Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine at: http://www.asianscientist.com/2015/03/tech/abb-pact-bring-solar-power-rural-myanmar/?__scoop_post=2d578200-ef96-11e4-c1f3-001018304b75&__scoop_topic=4200436#__scoop_post=2d578200-ef96-11e4-c1f3-001018304b75&__scoop_topic=4200436
“Building up the energy infrastructure is essential to Myanmar’s future economic and social progress, and off-grid electrification is one way to accelerate access to electricity,” said Mr. Johan de Villiers, Managing Director of Singapore and South-East Asia, ABB.
Mr. Richard Harrison, Country Director of Pact Myanmar explained, “Pact is committed to partnering with communities and institutions to address the critical need for electricity in rural areas in Myanmar. Our project will help reduce routine community expenditures on more expensive traditional energy sources by up to 20 percent.”
“Once communities have access to reliable light and energy sources throughout the day and evening hours, they are more able to increase their standard of living, and will be able to allocate more time and resources to education, income generation, health and community development activities,” he said. Daw Kyi of Kyaung Kone Village is excited about what this change means for their children. “Students will be able to study at night. This project promises a brighter future for our children,” she said.
For most villagers in these communities this will be the first time they will have reliable access to electricity. Through renewable energy, they will now be able to power lighting and small electrical applicances. This is the latest project in ABB’s Access to Electricity rural electrification program
Expansion of electricity is vital to both economic and social development of a country. The current state of Electricity in most of the states in India is worse than ever which includes Nagaland, Orissa , Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh etc. The Census of India 2011 indicates that 44 % of India’s rural households continue to depend on Kerosene for lighting, while even today 0.5 percent of its population or close to 897,760 households does not have access to lighting at all.
Industry , Farmers and household have invested a substantial amount of their capital on various alternative power equipments such as generators, inverters, and Voltage stabilizers to fulfill the power demand. India’s annual per capita electricity consumption is 400 Kwh, which is far behind than other countries like China ( 900Kwh) , Malaysia (2500Kwh) and Thailand (1500Kwh). Inspite of various attempts to achieve 100% electrification , India has achieved 44% electrification to the rural households.
Solar is by far the largest energy resource available on Earth. Grids may fail to reach a place,but sun doesn’t. Solar photovoltaic aka “solar cells” are growing faster than any other energy technology. Total installed PV capacity has doubled every two years since the inception year 2000. This Moore’s Law-like growth shows no sign of slowing. If PV capacity were to keep growing at the current rate, solar panels would satisfy all electricity demand within a decade. They are by far the leading solar technology in terms of total deployment, operates silently at low temperatures, and it doesn’t require much maintenance. Lack of maintenance is nice, lack of carbon footprint is nicer.
Viable and reliable electricity through solar energy in Villages will result in increased productivity in
a) agriculture and labor,
b) improvement in the delivery of health and education,
c) access to communications (radio, telephone, television, mobile telephone),
d) improved lighting after sunset,
e) facilitating the use of time and energy-saving mills, motors, and pumps, and
f) increasing public safety through outdoor lighting.
With the ever increasing population and limited amount of fossil fuels (coal, crude oil etc) which upon burning warms our palnet and disturbs the ecological balance . We have to shift to a technology which is clean, green and promising.The only thing which comes into our mind is Decentralised Generation
India is really lucky to receive high volumes of solar light and energy all throughout the year. India receives sun shine over 300 days a year which is most of the time. About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energy is incident over India’s land area. Theoretically, a small fraction of the total incident solar energy (if captured effectively) can meet the entire country’s power requirements. Tapping into it effectively will help resolve energy crisis in many regions of the country.
It’s almost certainly not the case that 100% power will be solar energy , But it’s pretty much believable to imagine that over 40 years, solar energy could account for more than half of India’s Rural power. Solar today is about where electricity was in the late 19th century. Many had seen the promise, but few could fully grasp the possibilities
An Article by Samad Khan
WattAVillage is a program designed to provide and assist with energy access to the under developed regions, and primarily addressed to help solve problems of the rural community. We work with off the grid villages, identifying challenges and energy related issues and help find solutions to solve energy related challenges.
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