(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Renewable Energy: Transforming the Face of Rural India
(GIST OF YOJANA) Renewable Energy: Transforming the Face of Rural India
Renewable Energy: Transforming the Face of Rural India
Targeted plans and programmes for rural development changed the face of rural settings, and renewable energy played a critical role in it. Renewable Energy (RE) provided clean energy support to various development programmes and improved quality of life of millions of rural dwellers. India was among the first countries in the world which institutionalised development and deployment of RE by creating an exclusive department under union government (1982). In due course, it evolved into a full-fledged ministry, now known as Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
India on global map with 4th position in terms of total installed RE capacity, 5th in solar power and 4th in wind power installed capacities. Recently, India has crossed the milestone of 100 Gigawatt (GW) installed capacity, while another 50 GW is under installation and 27 GW is under tendering. Country has also enhanced its target to install 450 GW of RE capacity by 2030. Additionally, India is also aiming to achieve 40 percent of installed electric power capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030. India has an estimated RE potential of about 900 GW from commercially exploitable sources; namely, Wind- 102 GW (at 80 metre mast height), Small Hydro - 20 GW, Bio-energy - 25 GW, and Solar - 750 GW (assuming 3 percent wasteland). All along the progressive journey of RE in India, ‘Rural Transformation’ remained a prime theme in government sponsored programs.
Biogas and Biomass- Energising Smiles
Biogas is the first clean and renewable source of energy that was developed specifically for rural areas and was promoted by union government during 1980s. Currently, MNRE is running a comprehensive ‘New National Biogas and Organic Manure Programme’ (NNBOMP) for dissemination and deployment of biogas plants in remote, rural, and semi-urban areas of the country. Under the programme, central subsidy is provided for installing biogas plants in the size range varying from one cubic metre to 25 cubic metre. Besides, financial support is also extended to beneficiaries for construction, supervision etc.
In rural and remote areas, biogas plants are reliable source of clean, low-cost and green (environment friendly) fuel for cooking, lighting and fulfilling small power needs of farmers, cattle owners and individual households. Digested slurry, obtained from biogas plants as a by product, is an enriched organic fertiliser (NPK) with many advantages to fields and farmers.
Biogas is used as a source-fuel for power generation and thermal applications in rural areas to meet local needs. To promote it, MNRE is operating a ‘Biogas Power Generation (Offgrid) and Thermal Energy Application Program (BPGTP)’ for setting up biogas plants in the size range of 30 cubic metre to 2500 cubic metre per day for corresponding power generation capacity range of 3 kW to 250 kW. The installation of such systems replaces diesel in DG sets and also reduces electricity bills of the individual farmers and other beneficiaries and, thus, helping increase the income of farmers. Biogas systems are providing clean and cheap power to dairy plants, poultry farms and dairy cooperatives for operation of dairy equipments and meeting other electrical, thermal and cooling energy requirements for plant operation. Generally, biogas power is used for refrigeration of milk and other uses such as pumping, lighting, irrigation and sometimes for cooking as well.
Biomass is another abundant source of clean power in rural areas which is being promoted by MNRE for large scale adoption. Gasifiers are generally installed to recover energy from biomass resources (agricultural residues/wastes, biowastes from industries, bagasse of sugar mills, etc) for power generation. It helps in environmentally safe utilisation of surplus agro-residues which if left unutilised will be disposed off by burning in open fields.
Solar Power: Lighting Lives
Solar energy/power is the chief renewable energy source driving transformation in rural areas by lighting lives of villagers. Solar energy based decentralised and distributed applications have benefitted millions of people in villages by meeting their cooking, lighting and other energy needs in a environment friendly way. The social and economic benefits include reduction in drudgery among rural women and girls engaged in collection of fuel wood from long distances and cooking in smoky kitchens. Wide scale adoption of solar applications/devices at household and community level has also enhanced employment generation and livelihood opportunities at village level. This has ultimately led to improvement in standard of living and creation of opportunities for various economic activities in villages.
Small Hydro Power- Big Impacts
MNRE runs a special Small Hydro Power (capacity up to 25 MW) Programme to meet power requirements of remote and isolated areas in a decentralised manner. Such projects also create employment opportunities to local people and enhance livelihood opportunities in rural areas. Special emphasis is being laid to north-eastern states which are beleaguered by large energy deficits and poor quality of energy services. SHP projects have been found effective in generating sufficient electricity to power domestic households, schools and clinics in rural areas and catalyse entrepreneurship activities.
The wide and vast renewable energy programme has improved quality of life; has created and strengthened livelihood resources; and has made dreams come true for disadvantaged people in rural areas. Supply of renewable power to schools, hostels, panchayats and other public service institutions is helping communities at large and also contributing in enhancing participation of women in education, social and livelihood activities.
Apart from supporting jobs and entrepreneurship with better power supply, renewable energy has ample potential to address critical issues such as energy poverty, agri-productivity, food security, health and climate variability. Deployment of renewable energy in rural areas has impacted and energised lives of millions of rural dwellers including those living in remote and difficult areas.