Empowering Rural India using Solar and other Renewables – 28 Case studies

It is a well known fact that about 400 million people in India do not have access to electricity and about 625 million people use biomass as cooking fuel. Kerosene is also used in enormous quantities for cooking and lighting. The impact of these fuels is quite well documented – the smoke they produce cause respiratory problems, the poor lighting leads to eye defects and practically all activities in villages come to a standstill after dusk. Given the power deficit and the challenges related to expansion of electricity grid, it is unlikely that all the demand can be met from traditional sources of power. Luckily for the nation, renewable energy has started to play a significant role in bringing energy to the rural communities.
While any mention of Renewable Energy conjures up images of tall wind turbines and solar panels spread over tens of acres of land, renewable energy has been used as a tool to positively influence the day-to-day lives of the “energy poor” rural population by social entrepreneurs, NGOs and other entities. While some of the initiatives like TERI’s Lighting a Billion Lives or Gram Power have received limelight, many successful initiatives were not identified and recognized till recently.
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy(MNRE) has now filled that gap by compiling a list of 28 case studies from across the country. 11 of the case studies are from Bio energy sector, 5 from micro-Hydro and 12 from Solar. In solar, the work of corporates like SELCO and Minda NexGen Tech are profiled. In terms of applications of PV, micro-grids, lighting, village electrification, water de-salination, growing vegetables(in Ladakh) and solar water pumping are included.In case of bio-energy, the case studies explain success stories in improved cook stoves, energy from waste and other interesting applications. As the Minister of MNRE mentions in message, ” these projects demonstrate how even the remotest areas of the country can be given access to energy through various renewable sources of energy.
MNRE needs to be commended for bringing these stories to the public. I am sure that the Minister’s hope that “the lessons (from these projects) will educate, instruct and advise all other stakeholders who are involved in tackling the challenge of expanding energy services to the un-served people and are keen to ensure that this access happens rapidly, sustainably, and affordably”will come true.
The compendium of case studies can be downloaded here.