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 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
There are close to 171 banks operating in India with 76,000 branches and over 12,000 NBFCs. There is already talk at the Central Ministry level of financing solar via the bank branches and the Regional Rural Banks. Initial meetings and top level honchos have met, with the MNRE officials, and they have been mandated to send the message downwards to the branches. While things are yet to change at the branch level, one often wonders ……What if each bank branch was mandated to finance 100 KW of solar power each year. Where would this lead us ?
The plain arithmetic of this is mind boggling !
7,600 MWs of solar power added to the country’s capacity every year and the biggies have not even stepped in.
Is 100 KW difficult to finance ? Not really, if we consider an average sized branch – it can benefit from about 8-12 KW of SPV plant itself for its own captive consumption. With each branch catering on an average to around 1800 customers, being able to offer this proposition to 20 customers of this lot, should not be difficult since the bank would have access to repayment capability. Financing this, would be in the bank’s interests in any case ( even if its on preferential interest rates).
Imagine if this becomes policy or mandate for the next 10 years. Remember that grid parity can be achieved by 2017 according to experts, and we believe that timeline shall get crunched even more. So financing and offering this post 2016-17, should be a compelling proposition in any case.
Now, if this can provide 76,000 MWs of decentralised energy generation, this is equivalent to producing about 110,000 MWs via power plants and distributing (taking into account, various T & D losses).
Financing solar in India truly is the key to unlocking solar potential in India.
Growing Markets in Renewable Energy
Bangladesh’s progress in microfinance is well known. But the application in Green Banking has been a new innovation. Many homes in off-grid areas have used microfinance loans to install solar panels.
Bangladesh is home to one of the fastest-growing solar home industries in the world. IDCOL, a government-owned intermediary, with support from the World Bank, has installed more than 3 million solar home systems. This has been enabled access to energy.
Around 13 million people are now getting solar electricity – around 9 percent of the population. Another 3 million more are set to be installed over the next few years and the market is growing.
In my interviews in Bangladesh last month I found that, in many places, solar energy has saved people money compared to using kerosene lamps. There are also health benefits – using solar electricity prevents indoor air pollution from burning kerosene.
Electricity allows children to study in the evenings and has supported small businesses, like cottage industries in garments.
In 2009, the Central Bank launched its own 200 billion taka ($25 million) renewable energy re-financing scheme for solar panels, biogas and waste treatment plants, to encourage the growth of these markets.
There could be lessons for other countries in Africa that have huge populations lacking grid access. Rahman has joined an advisory council at the United Nations Environment Programme in its enquiry into the design of a sustainable financial system.
Tackling poverty and financial inclusion
Not only has the Central Bank being successful on green banking, but it has also promoted financial inclusion of the poorest farmers. Rahman argues strongly that financial inclusion and stability are mutually supportive.
Rahman’s own life story is an interesting example of social mobility and inclusion, as he worked his way up from being the son of a rural farmer to Governor of the Central Bank.
The Central Bank has introduced bank accounts that can be opened with a deposit of just 10 taka (about 9 British pence), giving millions of poor farmers an opportunity to open up an account. All this has been enabled by the mobile phone revolution in Bangladesh.
These farmers, who have moved from the ‘unbanked’ to the ‘banked’, are now able to take bank loans instead of borrowing from informal moneylenders who charge high interest.
Access to finance can also help rural farmers become more resilient to disasters. As extreme weather events may become more frequent due to climate change, steps like these can help build resilience.
In a world where public faith in bankers has been tarnished by the financial crisis, Rahman’s reforms are rightfully being recognised as a global success story from the world of banking.
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.
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
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