Sameer Nair, Co-founder, Gram Oorja Solutions Pvt Ltd feels that micro-grid projects can be successfully implemented in Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand and Bihar, as these states receive substantial solar radiation.
What are the opportunities for micro-grid projects in India?
The past several years have seen significant growth in the clean energy sector in India. With this, the opportunity for micro-grid projects in India has evolved in both, the public and private sectors. India receives a fair amount of solar radiation throughout its terrains and micro-grids provide the best opportunity to make use of different sources of distributed generation and storage devices for a small region, which can range from a small community or village to a larger settlement, depending on the energy demand and requirement.
Micro-grid projects can be implemented in rural as well as urban areas. However, it makes more sense to use them in far-flung rural areas, where grid extension is not feasible due to remoteness and forest regulations. This will allow the rural population to have equal access to energy as other parts of the country. With the introduction of net metering policies across various states, urban users can choose to sell the excess energy generated from their rooftop solar projects.
Do any of your projects consider the ´motive load´ while supplying electricity to the rural masses?
Yes. Our projects take ´motive load´ into consideration while supplying electricity to the rural masses. Due to electricity, villagers are now able to work longer hours and can involve themselves in a secondary source of income. Women can engage in income-generating activities as she can work after dark.
Keeping all these in mind, Gram Oorja has designed its systems to incorporate the aspirational needs of the people along with sufficient energy to meet the load demand for new commercial activities.
Along with general electricity load for household use, Gram Oorja considers load for commercial activities like milling, pumps for irrigation and drinking water etc.
How many micro-grid projects has your company set up across India?
With the help of solar PV micro-grid projects, Gram Oorja Solutions Private Limited, in association with various organisations, have electrified various off-grid villages across Maharashtra and Karnataka. Till now, Gram Oorja has designed and installed 14 micro-grid projects, bringing light and electricity to more than 350 households since 2012, and is now expanding its projects throughout the country with more micro-grid projects in the pipeline.
The Village Energy Committee (VEC) is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the plant. All the projects are running successfully with the cooperation of the villagers and local organisations. Villagers are satisfied with the outcomes from the project and in many cases, have requested more energy to support their upcoming commercial activities. In a village in Karnataka, villagers have set up electric fencing around their village through solar systems with the knowledge obtained during micro-grid project implementation. At present, the total capacity of completed micro-grid projects by Gram Oorja is at 75 kWp.
What is the technology used to set up these micro-grids?
Solar PV technology has been used while setting up these micro-grids. The supply from this technology has been reliable, providing 24x7 access to electricity to the villagers. These micro-grid systems have been designed carefully keeping in mind energy demand of the households as per their aspirational needs. Provisions have been made to incorporate future commercial activities, while taking care not to oversize the system.
- RAHUL KAMAT