Indian village leads the way in rural electrification with solar-powered micro-grid

A small village in one of India’s poorest states has becomes the nation’s first to meet 100 per cent of its own energy needs using off-grid solar power.

Dharnai village in the north-western state of Bihar has successfully constructed a solar micro-grid, distinguishing itself from the 19,000 other villages in the state – or 82 per cent of the population – which lack access to electricity and reliable power from the grid.

The 100-kilowatt (kW) system – 70kW electricity generation, 30kW for 10 solar-powered water-pumps – supply power and water to the village’s 450 homes, 50 commercial operations, two schools, training centre and health care facility. Battery storage ensures power around the clock.

The project, overseen by Greenpeace, was built within three months and has been on a test-run since March. It is a first for India.

Greenpeace says it needed a heterogeneous village for the project, with agriculture as the main occupation and with a basic social infrastructure, a commercial zone and around 400 households.

The micro-grid is operated in association with BASIX, a livelihood promotion institution as well as CEED, a network of NGOs and think-tank organisations in Bihar to support renewable energy development in the state.

After two months of successful testing, Greenpeace launched the micro-grid on Sunday 20 July, with the eldest resident of Dharnai (80-years-old) formally switching it on.

Top image via Greenpeace International, ©Vivek M.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson