Indian Village Powered by the Sun
The words “energy crisis” are more common and less panic-inducing than ever before. In life, days for most people end the same way they begin 
― by flipping the light-switch.

Solar Initiatives and Climate Change

The National Solar Initiative was a global contribution in one of many efforts to combat the slippery slope of climate change. The 2008 initiative was created by the United States government with several targets in mind, one of which included solar power.

According to the National Action Plan on Climate Change, “India is a tropical region where sun is available for longer hours per day with great intensity,” so India had seen a reason to establish responsible and smart change. Also, another global agreement for change include the Paris Agreement signed in 2016, which sought to curb rising global temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius. Since these action plans, India has taken strong global action in becoming one of the leaders in alternative energy sources.

History of Diu

The village of Diu, an island in western India, is quaint compared to its neighboring counterparts. With a population of 50,000 people, Diu is now known as the Indian village powered by the sun and provides electricity for some of India’s poorest populations.

Mostly known for its holiday tourism, Diu became a territory in 1987, and is one of seven Union territories located in India. While 60 percent of Indian poverty is located on the eastern side of the country, alternative energy sources will continue to aid economic growth in Diu. Data for Gujarat, India (just above Diu) indicates that although the state is heavily manufacture-based, the nation never managed to reach economic growth.

Energy Implications

Despite this status, strong new data suggests many positive implications regarding higher living standards. The first is increased local communication. Solar power in Diu has established communication and economic relations with its neighboring state, Gujarat, due to the fact that most night-time energy stems from this ally.

In 2017, Diu imported only 26 percent of its electricity from Gujarat; the other 73 percent came from their own solar power. Such communication and negotiation is useful for global trade advancements in the future.

Alternative energy has also provided education. Non-governmental organizations — such as The Barefoot College — train and educate solar engineers. The students go on to repair solar lighting and heat in an effort to increase electrification, which is especially helpful in rural areas similar to the Indian village powered by the sun.

Perhaps the most positive ramification to modernizing electricity is the exponential economic effect. According to The World Bank, global powerhouses would be able to focus more attention on alternative sources in places like Diu by ending fossil fuel subsidies. Furthermore, researchers would have more access to data regarding the benefits of solar energy alleviating poverty.

What Do the Panels Look like?

The answer to this question lies within the middle of India’s Eastern hills. The expansive panels cover almost 50 acres, and fuel all of the village’s daytime power needs. With a smaller population, 10.5 megawatts (MW) of energy are created but only 7 MW are used; thus, rapid population growth is a proven problem. Fortunately, though, generating greater resources allows the population to both increase and receive adequate power.

By 2019, the Indian village powered by the sun will welcome wind power to the island. The government will create 6.8 MW of wind power that will then be used for day and night energy.  

Change On the Horizon

With other alternative energy sources on the horizon, it’s safe to say that Diu will no longer be the only Indian village powered by the sun. Diu, and many other countries in 2019 will take on the needed role of environmental leaders with exciting new sources of energy.

– Logan Moore
Photo: Flickr

solar power projectIndia has launched its largest solar power project with an aim to meet the target of 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar electricity by 2022. The project has been initiated with the collaboration of the State Bank of India (SBI) and the World Bank Group (WBG). According to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “the world must turn to the sun to power our future.”

According to the estimate of the International Energy Agency (IEA) conducted in 2015, up to 300 million Indian households don’t have access to regular electricity. People from rural areas are the most affected by this situation. Even those who are connected to the central electrical grid also suffer from intermittent electrical outages.

According to the World Bank, India is the place of the world’s largest “un-electrified population.” This brings problems in public health, education and small-scale industries. With no power, storing drugs and vaccines in refrigerators becomes difficult. Problems in hospitals and emergencies become evident, and everyday health hazards occur as people burn kerosene, coal, wood and diesel to provide light. Education in villages suffers a lot as many children have little to no light after dark.

The solar power project comes with the potential of addressing the deficiency of electricity and providing clean renewable energy for the mass population. Of the 100 GW of solar power capacity, 40 GW will be generated from a rent-a-roof program and the rest from solar parks.

In a rent-a-roof program, the developers will rent the roof on lease from individual households and feed the power to the grid. The maintenance of the whole setup will be done by the developers. The solar industry welcomes this prospect, although a framework for this policy has not yet been defined and there is a concern regarding its implementation by 2021.

The rent-a-roof policy is also facing a challenge in several big cities like Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi where the installation is slow. The rooftop solar panels have mainly been installed on government, institutional and commercial buildings as opposed to individual households.

At present, the rooftop solar power project needs a boost but it has tremendous potential in the solar energy market. It is considered an important alternative source for fulfilling the current deficiency and will help in lowering the cost of electricity for middle-class and poor citizens.

India has also taken initiative in setting up the solar parks that will generate 60 GW of electricity. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of WBG, is assisting the Indian government in setting up a 750 MW solar power project in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh.

Pavagada solar park in southern Karnataka is considered one of the largest solar parks in the world. It is spread over 13,000 acres and will generate almost 2000 MW of electricity by September 2018. The solar park is aiming to reduce 20 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year and save 3.6 million tons of natural gas.

The park has been built on barren farmland leased from farmers thus providing a substantial sum of compensation. Apart from providing income to the farmers, the park has generated 4,000 jobs.

India, being a tropical country, can capitalize on its solar power and provide cheap, clean and renewable energy for millions of its citizens who are deprived of electricity. The solar power project will definitely boost this effort.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr