“Either give us electricity or we will leave.”

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Lisari is a village in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Seven years ago 450 families moved into three new developments in the village, but the people who sold them the land didn’t provide a grid connection, and seven years on they still don’t have electricity.

This has had a devastating impact on every aspect of daily life.

When she arrived in Lisari, Ruksana, 30, brought all the electrical equipment a home would need: a fridge, lighting, a TV and fans – essential in India’s searing heat. But the fans lie idle and the fridge is currently being used as a cupboard to store her clothes.

Mohd Sabir, 42, told the Times of India that his three-year-old son died of fever and vomiting in the searing summer heat. Mohd Mukammil, 26, says that his wife, left him, telling him that he had to choose between the village and her.

Education has also suffered, with Sahiba, 16, telling reporters: “I will have to stay up at night to prepare for my board exams, but in the absence of electricity I have to manage with torches and candles.”

Now the residents have put for sale signs outside their homes and are threatening to leave.

Sadly, these experiences are not unusual in a country in which around 300 million people still lack access to electricity. It’s why India’s government has made power for all a top priority.

For the residents of Lisari, a connection to the grid can’t come a moment too soon. Lives, marriages and jobs all depend on it.

India will use all forms of energy to deliver electricity to its citizens

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Piyush Goyal, the Indian Energy Minister, has said that India will continue using all forms of fuel in order to spread electricity to the hundreds of millions of Indians who currently live without electricity.

He said that the Paris Agreement “does not in any way stop the government or any country from meeting its energy needs from whatever sources of energy one may choose”.

Goyal stated that India was also looking to expand wind energy capacity with 175 GW planned.

However, he said that coal power however will “continue to remain our mainstay and there was no such agreement in Paris that will stop us from continuing to encourage coal-based generation of power”.

Electrification was a key part of Narendra Modi’s election campaign when he became Prime Minister and dominated the recent elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

India has attempted to deliver electrification through off grid solutions in the past with disappointing results.

Goyal’s commitment to all sources of energy reflects the belief that the best way to spread electricity is through a safe, reliable and affordable connection to the grid.

Indian villages say ‘no’ to solar land grabs

By | Affordable electricity, India | One Comment

India’s Government has recently announced it wishes to expand solar capacity in the country by 20GW through dedicated “solar parks” which are developments of 500MW or more.

To achieve this aim, the Government will have to acquire, possibly forcibly, 80,000 acres in land – eight times the size of New Delhi.

The loss of land, which in some cases is prime agriculture land is worrying for the 1.2 billion people living in the rapidly developing nation – half of which rely on farming to survive.

The decision to push ahead with solar parks has already led to conflicts with land owners according to Land Conflict Watch.

In just one example in Andhra Pradesh, the state authorities sought to acquire 11,000 acres of land whilst farmers complained they were not being compensated properly for their loss of livelihood.

India has 400 million people without access to affordable and reliable electricity and half the population rely on farming.

Governments should be providing access to electricity that supports farmers, not hinders their future.

Why are people in India tweeting pictures of power lines?

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Check out this tweet to India’s Prime Minister from a resident of Uttar Pradesh (UP)!

UP is a place where only 60 percent of households there have access to electricity, but now the Indian government has promised to give 1.8 million of the poorest households a free connection to the grid.

As you can see, the plan is going down very well with locals, who’ve previously had to make do with limited power from solar systems.

Past efforts to deliver mass-electrification programmes for India’s poorest have emphasised renewable solutions such as rooftop solar, which operate independently of the country’s coal-powered electrical grids. The problem is that this approach hasn’t worked for the people it’s supposed to help.

Take the western state of Maharashtra, where 1500 hamlets and 288 villages were plunged into darkness, after the solar panels they were given broke down.

“We have no clue how to fix the equipment,” said a member of one village council. “Some batteries stopped working within months. Others lasted for about two years. Some of the solar panels were broken.”

Or look at Dharnai, a village in Bihar that was declared India’s “first fully solar powered village” in 2015. Power there had to be rationed to just a few hours a day, and after constant blackouts, the residents staged a protest, demanding that the government provide them with “real” not “fake” electricity.

The reality is that most Indians want the cheap, reliable, 24/7 power that rich countries take for granted, and that in turn requires a connection to the grid. It’s one thing to be able to power a lightbulb for a few hours a day, but another to be able to run a fridge, a laptop, or a small business.

The growing calls for reliable power explains why India’s local and national governments are increasingly rejecting the solar shortcut and opting instead to get their citizens onto the grid. With India now the world’s fastest growing major economy, there are huge development benefits from this approach. Other countries with similar levels of energy poverty should take note.

For millions of people around the world, reliable electricity can mean the difference between life or death. Decent healthcare is also essential for development, as it’s through safe childbirth and family planning that women become free to earn or study, one of the best routes out of poverty we know. Yet another reason why electricity matters.

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Renewables alone are not enough in Maharashtra

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Micro grids and renewables have been widely touted as the solution to bring electricity to those who do not have access in the developing world.

We have seen the example of Dharnai in India where solar panels failed to deliver on promises of electrification.

Now in a village called Bhamana in Maharashtra state, history is repeating itself.

In 2012 Maharashtra was declared fully electrified. However, many areas were electrified only by connections to solar panels and wind turbines.

It has now emerged that since then over 1500 hamlets have been returned to darkness.

The project director at the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co, Dinesh Saboo said: “Most of the equipment (solar panels / wind turbines) is either stolen or not working.”

He said that the decision has now been taken to connect these villages to electricity in the ‘conventional’ – by the grid.

A villager from Maharashtra, Ardaas Samle Pawra, is clear about what a grid connection means: “Our children could have a much better life if we have electricity.”

Ardaas’ children deserve the certainty provided by a grid connection not the uncertainty of solar and wind power.

Recently former UN Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan said: “Countries need to redouble their investments in transmission and distribution lines.”

It is clearer than ever that the millions of people who do not have electricity require access to safe, reliable and affordable energy. The best way they can get this is through grid connections.

India powers ahead on plan to bring electricity to every village

India powers ahead on plan to bring electricity to every village

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it a personal goal to get electricity to every Indian village within 1000 days. New research shows that he’s well on his way.

Seventy years on from independence, around a quarter of India’s billion-plus population, don’t have access to reliable electricity. Spread out across the country in 18,452 priority villages, connecting them to the grid is a big task but one that is fundamental to both India’s economic prosperity and the basic human dignity of its people.

And the plan seems to be working. So far India has delivered electricity to more than 7,108 of the 18,452 target villages, which is ahead of Modi’s original schedule. Millions of Indians now have light for their children to study by, and the chance for a better life.

‘We are striving to meet the aspirations of 1.25 billion people, 300 million more of whom will soon have access to modern sources of energy.’  – Narendra Modi, 2015

Modi’s progress is backed up by India having some of the largest coal reserves in the world and therefore a means to tackle poverty and provide safe and cost-effective power to his people, especially as they are also investing in making the fuel cleaner. 

India, which became one of fastest growing economies in the world this year, shows what can be achieved when a government puts its mind towards tackling such a fundamental issue such as energy poverty. Other countries in the developing world will surely be asking what lessons can be learnt.

India positions itself as champion of the developing world at UN climate conference

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The Indian Government has said that building a consensus on climate justice and tackling energy poverty will be its top negotiating priority at COP22, the UN climate conference in Marrakesh. 

As reported yesterday the Indian view is that it is manifestly unjust to hold back the world’s poorest countries by trying to deny them cost effective power generation in order to pay for climate problems created by the West. 

Instead, India will be pushing for ‘technology transfer at affordable prices to the developing world’, environment minister Anil Madhav Dave has said. This reflects India’s belief that the West needs to invest more in carbon reduction technology, and then share that technology with the rest of the world. 

Narendra Modi, India’s PM, has been very clear that no developing country should have to choose between shrinking its carbon footprint and feeding its citizens:

‘climate justice demands that, with the little carbon space we still have, developing countries should have enough room to grow.’

 In India, those countries will have a powerful champion at COP22. 

Electrifying India: the day rural Hotasar finally saw the light

Electrifying India: the day rural Hotasar finally saw the light

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Via The Guardian

When a government official first came to Hotasar in western India, the villagers shooed him away. He had come to tell them an engineer was on his way and the village would get its first electric light bulb within months. “Bring light? To Hotasar? It’s impossible,” they told him. Others had promised the same, but plans to electrify the village had repeatedly failed.

Hotasar, a small village of about 200 people in the Rajasthani desert, is very difficult to reach. In April last year, it was one of 18,452 Indian villages without electricity. In the past few months, that number has fallen to 12,100 under a flagship programme launched by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi.

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For power to reach all, it will need a multi-pronged strategy, collaboration between centre and states

For power to reach all, it will need a multi-pronged strategy, collaboration between centre and states

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Via The Indian Express

That the government of India’s recent initiatives in the power sector have started bearing fruit is undeniable. It is for this reason that the ministry of power and renewable energy (RE) has been graded as one of the most performing ministries at the Centre.

With the increasing availability of power in the country resulting in a fall in prices and the gradual easing of transmission constraints, it is clear that the milestone of 24×7 supply to all parts of the country is around the corner. The big question, however, is to ensure supply of power, even if it is not 24×7, to all and here, the objective of “power for all” set by policymakers comes under scrutiny.

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