Resource detail

Title: Direct Current based Solar Micro-grid at 36 sites in Rural Uttar Pradesh
Author:I H Rehman, Director, Social Transformation Division, TERI
Source:I H Rehman, Director, Social Transformation Division, Lighting a Billion Lives (LaBL) Campaign, TERI

Challenges: Kerosene is the primary source of lighting among 43 % of the rural households in India. In addition, electricity supply in majority of the electrified households in rural areas is either of poor quality or/and unreliable. Poor electrification and unreliable supply leads to usage of kerosene based lighting devises such as kerosene lamps, which not only provides poor quality illumination but also results in hazardous smoke. To address to the lighting challenges of the rural community and with the objective of providing clean and quality lighting, TERI ahs initiated the project.



Initiatives: TERI developed and installed solar operated Direct Current (DC) based micro-grids at 36 sites in rural Uttar Pradesh. The solar micro-grid technology meets specific energy demands of the smaller segments of community (10 to 100 households/shops). Further, the installer has the flexibility to make appropriate changes in the system based on the demand of the community. The model involves a centralized power generation (solar panels), storage (battery) system and provision of DC current to surrounding households/ commercial entities (small shops) with installed LED (light-emitting diode) luminaries during a fixed time. In this model, photovoltaic power panels are installed in modular units allowing generation capacity to scale up easily to meet community demand. Power is distributed over a short distance from the battery banks to a cluster of households or shops (each cluster comprising of 10 to 100 households/shops/production units) within the village where LED based luminaries are fixed. Low voltage DC electricity is distributed for 4-5 hours each night to power these LED lights. Each household / business centre is provided with one or two LED lights. These lights provide lighting far superior to kerosene at a comparable cost. The duration of electricity can be tailored based on local demand.

With 55 % grant from Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and financing support from Regional Rural Banks, 36 local level entrepreneurs ( called as Energy Providers) have invested on DC based Solar Micro-grids systems. The ownership of the systems has been transferred to the core actors- the Energy Providers. The average system and installation cost per Watt peak (Wp) was calculated as INR 400. These Energy Providers own and operate the Micro-grids as an income generating option where light connections are provided at the tariff of INR 5.00 per day or monthly tariff of INR 150. Usage charges were decided by the end users and Energy Providers jointly to address the issue of affordability. Local electricians are being trained and linked to the system suppliers and Energy Providers to expedite repair processes.

Outcome/Benefits: The DC based solar micro-grids replaced diesel generators in two market places. Electricity thefts are also common in diesel generators leading to financial losses. DC based solar micro-grids provide for the solutions to the challenges faced by the diesel generator operators. The diesel generator operators in other rural markets have expressed their interest to install DC based solar micro-grids as they believe that the negligible operational cost balances the high investment cost. The end users preferred LED lights over kerosene lamps as expenditure on kerosene is comparable to monthly tariff for solar based lighting. Till date, 1350 connections have been provided to retail units, household enterprises and households. TERI is now in the process of promoting the system with reduced grant support.

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