Illumine Dharnai (Solar microgrid projects in India)
Sparkling eyes of Rama Kumari Devi (80) is merely visible in the dim light of a kerosene lamp while she finally understands that her village ‘Dharnai’ will again have electricity. Just a while before she was reminiscencing of her youthful age when there was electricity in ‘Dharnai’. She recalls that it was almost over 30 years before when villagers used electricity for the last time. Electric bulbs were available for the students during night. She expresses her grief that her grandchildren had to suffer a lot during their study period for not having electricity for over last 30 years. Similar to Rama Kumari Devi, there are many more veterans who have the same experiences.
Greenpeace along with CEEDS (Centre for Environment and Energy Development) and BASIX have taken an initiative to make Bihar’s ‘Dharnai’ village in ‘Jehanabad’ district electrified by a solar microgrid installation project. ‘Dharnai’ had once been electrified almost over 30 years before, however, the infrastructure for it is no more available and presently diesel generators are the only source of electricity in this village. Lack of electricity has stunted the growth of ‘Dharnai’ to a very large extent though there are lots of potential to flourish. Healthcare is limited and it’s extremely difficult to establish new models of medical services in the absence of constant power supply. Additionally, using any form of electricity is very much limited, and only affordable to the economically affluent class who can bear the rising cost of diesel.
Bihar is highly lacking having enough fossil fuel resources to generate electricity for its future needs. The centralized system of distributing energy has also failed to deliver electricity in rural areas of Bihar and therefore the solution lies in accelerated development of renewable energy demand and to ensure long term energy security for the state. The social, cultural, economic demographic of the cluster village of ‘Dharnai’ encourage Greenpeace for setting up a solar micro grid to use environment-friendly sources of energy for the benefit of villagers and creating a replicable model for future. Also growing concern on increasing carbon emissions, effects of climate change on agricultural land and the absence of an efficient power distribution network collectively make ‘Dharnai’ as a perfect example for the universal energy access through clean and sustainable solar energy. Development of the solar microgrid by Greenpeace to electrify the entire village brings new hopes of development in the field of agriculture, education, medical services, and business among the villagers. Success of this initiative can unshut a new way of better living to ‘Dharnai’.