Mar 14, 2017

Solar : Solution for electrifying the Unelectrified


Energy access in any developing country is an important goal. For any government, delivering on the promise of energy access for all is a significant promise. If they deliver well on this promise, chances are bright that the voter mind set turns favourable as it is one of the most visible signs of improvement in standard of living for people living in the dark.
In India, there is an ambitious program that has been started by the current Government to ensure electricity reaches all in a time bound manner. All efforts are being made, and appear sincere by all counts, to ensure that the last remaining village also gets connected either to the grid. The other solution that exists is providing renewable power via solar. Few experiments have been carried out that have a mix of solar and wind. Perhaps finding an overlap of unelectrified regions, and
where both solar and wind resources assessments are positive, is difficult. Having said that, as long as the authorities have renewables on the radar, as a possible solution for getting power for the people living off the grid, is enough.
Chief Minister of State of Jharkhand in India has already issued instructions to ensure that electricity is reached to the unelectrified villages in the state ( approximately 250-300 villages) via solar power. The current Union Minister for Renewables, and Ministry of Power has also taken it into mission mode ( and rightly so, since there is no other way to get a solution to this problem), to get solar / power to the remaining about 4200 odd unelectrified villages across India. In May 2015, it is estimated that close to 20,000 villages were unelectrified. There was an active Remote Village Electrification program that was run by MNRE as well (and still runs).

The strong proof of the solid project execution in the way an application has been rolled out that can track progress of rural electrification in India. The app is located at the following address https://t.co/JTeTPxXn5f https://t.co/9YdjW4dZHJ and can be accessed by anyone. The intent is that as well. Odisha, Bihar and Assam seem to top in the list of unelectrified villages. But the application provides insight into work happening a the ground level, and in a scientific manner, lists down where work has been initiated, what is the pipeline, and where work is expected to be completed / completed and timeframe. During 2015-16 alone, about 7000 villages were electrified, and the government met it’s annual target. Of course, there had been a hue and cry about PM’s claim of electrifying a village in UP, apparently, done in the books but the situation at the ground level was different. But this could have been a one-off, an exception and while there could be many more, the fact remains that work at the ground level has gathered momentum and importantly, being done in an orderly manner. A social experiment of sorts, imperfections will remain, but the show must go on – the mission must get completed – the sooner the better.

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