A solar push for rural India
The solar renaissance that is sweeping the globe has brought within reach a solution to a vexing problem -- bringing electricity to small, remote villages. It is never easy to reach electric power to villages, especially when there is not enough to distribute.
That is why some 1.4 billion people in the world -- 400 million of whom are Indians -- do not have access to electricity. No matter what you do, there will be areas you can't take electricity to. Who would build power pylons and run tens of kilometres of cables to a village of 25 households?
But sun is everywhere. And tapping solar power, while still being an expensive proposition, is much less costly now compared to some years ago. And the good news is, it is beginning to happen.
Take the example of the Meerwada village of some 70 housesholds in the Guna district of Madhya Pradesh. SunEdison, an American company with operations in India, recently put up a small, 15 KW solar power plant, spending Rs 30 lakh. Now Meerwada has power 24x7. When the plant went live, about a couple of months ago, Meerwada was the object of envy in the neighbourhood.
SunEdison fixed a monthly rate based on the number of appliances in a house but, obviously, this was insufficient to cover costs (mainly capex costs).
The programme was funded by SunEdison's global social programme, which it calls SunEdison Eradication of Darkness (SEED), but the model itself is subsidy-driven.
Is it possible to sun-light a village without any subsidy support? It is, if one can organise some commercial activity for the villagers, so that they first earn money using the newly-obtained electricity and then pay for it out of the earnings. Now is the time to take up electrification of India on a mission mode.
Source: Business Line