You might have heard the story of Iceland and its success in achieving zero carbon emissions by utilizing Geothermal energy. Iceland falls on an active tectonic plate due to which it has a rich source of Geysers and hot springs. The government of Iceland has utilized the natural source of energy very effectively which powers up the entire country.
Just like Iceland, India gets abundant sunlight 300 days in the year which is due to its geographical position. India has the potential to replace all the energy sources generated from non-renewable resources with Solar energy. The Indian Government has made great efforts in utilizing Solar technology and has reached a capacity of 37.627 GW in the first quarter of 2020.
The Road to Electrify India’s Villages
As you might have heard that India has achieved electrification of all the villages on the 29th of April 2018.
So what do we mean by electrification of a village?
Well, according to the Ministry of power a village qualifies to be electrified if 10% of the households have power. But the road to achieving a country having 24/7 power availability to every household is a tough call due to its terrain and population. Solar energy has played a very important role to help the poor get access to electricity. Within two years more than 2700 villages were electrified mostly with the help of Solar energy.
Taking Advantage of the Sun
One of the biggest advantages of a Solar Photovoltaic System that I have found out is that it is very easy to create a local-grid cluster and distribute the electricity generated to a small village.
You just need to identify an open space near the locality/ community, add a few arrays of PV cells, and transmit the power generated directly. It is a very cheap and effective solution in lighting up the villages which are off the grid. By opting in a localized off-grid system one could avoid the cost of installing transmission lines, distribution stations, and huge power plants.
In India, there are hundreds of villages that are located in very remote terrain for instance in Ladakh, where the villagers have effectively utilized Solar Energy for their livelihood.
Ladakh is a very remote area that is surrounded by icy mountains which makes it very tough to build high tension transmission lines. A decentralized power source is an easiest and most effective way for places like Ladakh.
Ladakh is also building the world’s largest single-location solar power plant project which is estimated to generate over 5000 MW of electricity and will help in saving 12,750 tonnes of carbon emission every year which is huge!
So what can we learn from the villages of India?
Here are some important takeaways that I think can be a lesson learned:
- The most important point that I have observed from the villages is that Solar technology has been very affordable. Day by day the demand for solar tech is increasing due to which more and more companies are increasing their production.
- In cities where residents are paying more than ₹ 5 should start building a rooftop off-grid solar power system. This system can act as a backup power source to your home or can replace the grid during the daytime. By doing so not only will you save on your monthly bill, but it also will release a lot of load from the grid and the environment. So, what I can see is a win-win scenario for both you and the environment.
- It is pretty much possible to be self-sustainable by generating your own energy by staying off the grid using solar technology.
- In 2015, over one million Solar lanterns and Solar lighting systems have helped to reduce the dependency on Kerosene oil in villages. The Indian Government has stepped up in helping them out by providing a subsidy of 30 to 40% up to 210 Wp.
India has a great market for the Solar industry as out of the total 2.1 GW of power produced from solar energy, only 20% is generated from residential rooftop installation which roughly accounts for 430 MW. Whereas, the UK which has only half of the solar potential of India generates over 2500MW from residential rooftop solar installations.
India has a target of 40GW from only solar rooftop systems which might be a little too much as we are not even close to the target.
But we should not be disheartened and should take in all the positives from the villages of India. If rural India can achieve such a feat urban India can also follow suit.