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
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
India has finally decided to focus on tapping clean and renewable geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is available in abundance in the country but remains largely untapped but this new move will surely bring lots of opportunities.
Union ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) recently drafted a national policy, which seeks to make India a global leader in the sector, generating 1000 MW in phase one, ending 2022. The draft would be presented at the first global investors’ meet on renewable energy, to be held in New Delhi from February 15-17. Leading foreign firms in the geothermal sector are expected to attend this meet.
As quoted by DNA, Girish Kumar, Scientist and head of the geothermal division, MNRE says, “”The power generated could be used to electrify rural parts of the country”.
Chhattisgarh government has already decided to establish the first geothermal power plant in the country at Tattapani in Balrampur district, along with NTPC. This is the most promising geothermal resource in central India. If the pilot project is successful, the state may plan generation of 10,000MW in a decade. The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) have assessed the potential of generating 10,600 Mwth from 340 hot springs spread across seven geothermal provinces in 11 states.
According to Girish Kumar, scientist and head of the Geothermal Division, MNRE, the power generated could be used to electrify rural parts of the country, especially for the cold-storages. “Though the technology to generate power from geothermal energy is available, it is very site-specific; so major thrust of the proposed policy at present is on exploration, research and development of efficient pumps.”
Though India has been one of the earliest countries to begin geothermal projects way back in the 1970s, but at present there are no operational geothermal plants in India. There is also no installed geothermal electricity generating capacity as of now mainly chief because the availability of plentiful coal at cheap costs.
The scheme is open to public and private sector to carry out projects in India. For geothermal power exploration, the entrepreneur is supposed to approach the state government for site allocation. For industrial projects it would 30% of the capital cost and 30-50% for the research, design and development work and up to Rs 50,000 for public good like space heating, greenhouse cultivation, cooking etc, using direct geo-exchange pumps.
All stake holders like HVAC Contractors & Suppliers, Food Processing Units Manufactures Builders & contractors, Cold storage, Green House Manufacturer, Hotel/Restaurants Owners, Industry owners, Social Institutes, Schools Owners are encouraged to come forward for deployment of geothermal pumps
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”.
Developing shared solar programmes could boost the US rooftop market and represent as much as 49% of distributed PV sector in 2020, according to a new report by the US Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The report claims that allocating electricity from jointly owned arrays to be sold to the multiple owners would expand the pool of people who can benefit from solar.
Small business with insufficient roof space, and – crucially – those living in apartment blocks would stand to benefit.
Expanding this segment could lead to the addition of 5.5-11GW of solar between now and 2020, representing an investment of US$8.2 to US$16.3 billion, the report said.
According to the NREL 49% of US households and 48% of business are unable to host a PV array.
“Historically, PV business models and regulatory environments have not been designed to expand access to a significant portion of potential PV system customers,” said David Feldman, NREL energy analyst and lead author of the report. “As a result, the economic, environmental, and social benefits of distributed PV have not been available to all consumers. Shared solar programmes open up the market to the other half of businesses and households.”
The report suggests that the schemes may not be treated as for-profit securities if they are marketed as a means to reduce bills, thereby avoiding SEC regulation, which the report said would impact on the way shared solar programmes operate.
The report said governments, utilities and the solar industry could aid the acceleration of the shared solar market through initiatives such as the introduction of local legislation to create transparency and standardisation for investors
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