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Solar-powered LED Lamps to Bring Green Energy to India's Rural Areas

Two companies, MIC Electronics and Beltron Telecom Green Energy Systems Ltd (BTGES), have signed an agreement to distribute 330,000 LED lamps in the rural areas of the Indian state of Bihar. The aim is to distribute 10 million lamps in the nest three years.

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MIC Electronics already has arrangements with one of India’s leading oil companies, the Indian Oil Corporation, to distribute these lamps in seven other states of the country. The lamps can be recharged by either solar panels or biofuel-powered generating centres.

Bihar is one of the least developed state of India with lack of basic facilities like power supply and economic opportunities of growth and development. This prompts people in rural areas to migrate to metropolitan cities like New Delhi and Mumbai. Like thousands of other villages in India several villages in Bihar do not have access to power supply.

Rural Electrification and Carbon Emissions

One of the biggest problems in connecting remote rural areas to the national grid is the lack of infrastructure. Many of these villages are not connected to the gird and any proposed projects to make electricity available to these villages get entangled in the bureaucratic web of the Indian administration. Even if the government goes ahead with the electrification of these areas the most obvious source would be coal-based power plants since coal is the cheapest power resource.

This however, would significantly increase country’s carbon emissions output and could jeopardize India’s goal of reducing its carbon intensity by 20 to 25% from 2005 levels by 2020. India has, for long, argued that it cannot agree to mandatory absolute emission reduction targets since it has to electrify hundreds of thousands of villages. The World Bank, too, has agreed with the government’s stand.

Economic Benefits

Projects like the distribution of solar-powered LED lamps would certainly meet a part of the lighting demand in the rural areas. Thousands of school children complain about lack of lighting facilities at their homes which makes it impossible for them to study at home. Students can reap direct benefits from this scheme. This project can open up several other economic avenues for the millions of unemployed rural youth.

The solar panels or the biofuel-powered recharging station would require construction work and maintenance, this would create jobs for the villagers which could in turn reduce their migration to big cities. These recharging station could also work as distributed power generation units, thus reducing the need for connecting these villages to the national grid. The capacities of these recharging stations can be increased and local biomass such as farm residues or animal waste can be used as energy sources.

Another similar project was launched by The Energy and Resources Institute, wherein about 200 million solar powered lanterns are being distributed in villages across the country. Common people and businesses can contribute to this project by donating money. Such projects bring hope to a country suffering from the lack of basic infrastructure. Hopefully these modest initiatives eventually turn into large scale power generating alternatives to centralized power generation and can bring sustainable economic wellbeing to India’s villages.

Image: Barefoot Photographers of Tilonia (Flickr)/ Creative Commons

The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.

 
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Written By

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

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