Solar Energy fuelling the aspirations of Rural India | Milaap

Solar Energy fuelling the aspirations of Rural India

It has been two weeks since I have been roaming around in the villages of Balangir district in Orissa. For the first time, I visited a village with no electricity and water supply and it was no surprise to me in the light of the fact that 75 million rural households in India still don’t have access to electricity. But there was a sense of positivity in this village. I met a twelve member women self-help group which had taken the lead to bring light to its village by using solar energy. It might be a little surprising for the readers that almost all the women in this group had a mobile phone indicating the development creeping in to rural India. But this was not the only surprise for me. What was surprising for me is that in the absence of electricity how they were charging their mobile phones. Knowing my curiosity, they demonstrated to me the working of the solar lantern which also has a slot for charging the mobile phone batteries of any available brand in market. It’s a really a huge success for these women, Milaap and its field partners which are trying their bit to ease the miseries of the people in rural India. [caption id="attachment_5647" align="alignnone" width="603"]Khagsikana Village SHG with its leader (extreme left) Khagsikana Village SHG with its leader (extreme left)[/caption]In my other visit to the Larkipali village, I was much impressed with the confidence of the three women who had availed the Milaap loan for buying solar lantern. While light problems of their households have been resolved to a very large extent by the solar energy, these women now desire to have a product that can power their fans and if possible even coolers during the cruel summer afternoons when temperature easily goes past 40 degree Celsius. I didn’t had any specific solution to their problem and the timeline in which it could be addressed. All I could assure them was that with their positive experience with the solar light and their rising aspiration, it wouldn’t take much longer to realize their dreams.[caption id="attachment_5648" align="alignnone" width="610"]Larkipali Village SHG with its leader (in middle) Larkipali Village SHG with its leader (in middle)[/caption]

At a distance of around 2 kilometers of the Larkipali village there is a working solar power plant. I and field partner staff, both decided to have a look at the solar plant. While we were not expecting to get inside the plant, to much of our surprise the plant supervisor called us in. This one megawatt power plant on a ten acre land, owned privately, was commissioned in 2011. The plant provides electricity to the main grid through which electricity is supplied to different destinations. As per the plant supervisor, government of India these days is providing a lot of incentives for the people who want to build their own solar power plants. The plant functions from 5 in the morning to 6 in the evening. When they started working on this plant, they had to import the solar panels form China and Korea which had cost them dearly almost 5-6 years back. But the good news is that now the solar panels are being manufactured in India which has brought the costs considerably down for building a solar power plant. A solar power plant of similar capacity which took around 16 crores to build 4 years back can now be built for 6 to 7 crore rupees. He doesn’t see the solar energy completely replacing the traditional forms of energy, but he does see it complementing the other forms of conventional energy sources. The government of India’s target of attaining two lakh megawatt energy production from solar and wind combined by 2030 is a giant leap in this direction.

[caption id="attachment_5649" align="alignnone" width="606"]At the solar power plant near to Larkipali village At the solar power plant near to Larkipali village[/caption]