Providing every citizen with the basic necessity of electricity is a major goal of the Government and a step towards that have been solar micro grids. There have been large-scale efforts to provide electricity generated by solar energy. But a research study has shown that the desired results have not been yielded because of availability of subsidized kerosene. Ishi Arya of the2is.com reports that subsidy on kerosene is a major drawback in providing cleaner and greener alternative of solar micro grid, particularly in rural areas.
A study by Johannes Urpelainen which was published in the Science Development magazine on 17th May implied the multiple uses of the grid and the prevailing problems in its implementation. The implementing of microgrid reduced expenditure on kerosene in 1281 rural household in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh where the study was carried out. The rural electrification rate in the rural area increased from 29% to 36% of the households having access to electricity with an increase in the number of hours from 0.99 to 1.42hrs. Around 20-25% of the electricity connections in the village are provided by the microgrid. 95% of the households in the area relied on kerosene in the area which is sold through Public Distributions System and black market. With the introduction of micro grids, the kerosene expenditure on the black market decreased from 47-49 Rs. Per month. The rural economy will have a greater impact if the subsidy is provided on the solar power in place of kerosene. The subsidiary on the kerosene carry high cost for the government and in the same place, solar microgrids offer safer and cleaner alternative for the government and the households. If, the subsidy was removed on the kerosene more people will be attracted towards the solar micro grids and the community will be greatly impacted at the community level. The finding of the study can also be correlated with other countries also. The micro grids can improve the quality of life in terms of providing electricity but interventions are required to create livelihood.
Debajit Patil, Associate Director of The Energy and Resource Institute, New Delhi says that it should not be generalized; basic energy does not produce and social economic benefits in the rural area. Small scale solar projects improve the social life in the rural area but the measure of economic benefits will be visible only if it is specifically designed for that purpose. Inputs like institutional support, affordable and timely finance, market linkage and supply of food quality like raw materials which are non-energy inputs are also essential for the promotion of the micro-enterprises and for the use of electricity. He also said that electricity is an enabler and it is not a sufficient condition to produce large socio-economic benefits (Mr. Debajit Palit did not participate in the study).
Micro grid is a grouping of electric sources and loads which works connected to the traditional centralized electric grid (macrogrid) and can function independently if the physical and economic conditions dictate mainly in the rural area. It effectively integrates various sources of distributed generations (DG) especially Renewable Energy Sources (RES). It provides a solution to the question of supplying energy in case of an emergency. Villages can build their own power micro grids and gauze their own needs in terms of power and accordingly invest in the appropriate number of solar panels. The power of the micro grid can be calculated by adding up the individual power needs of the households.
Nikhil Jaisinghaniya, Co-founder of Mera Gao Power (MGP) said in this regard that the poor people were exclusively benefited by micro grids. He says that electricity was not the only component which spurred enterprise building, but they were mainly dependent on the roads infrastructure and customers. It was true that schooling and education improved with the availability of electricity but only those students were benefitted who were interested in studying whereas others were not motivated to take up studies. The service aimed to provide 7 to 8 hours of electricity but in reality it only provided for about 1 to 2 hours.