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From powering photocopy shops to rice hullers, mini-grids can light up villages 24/7. T&C apply.

A bunch of private players in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand are trying to serve under-electrified villages with mini-grids, or local electrical networks, which generate electricity primarily from solar panels. While this is creating new sources of livelihood for the villagers and increasing their income levels, there is a big question mark on the viability of the investment.
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3 Jun 2020 7 Mins Read 2 comments
A Mlinda mini-grid; image credit: energyaccessplatform.org
A Mlinda mini-grid; image credit: energyaccessplatform.org
It was touted to be a “historic moment”. As an electric bulb lit up like a Christmas tree amid loud cheer, claps, and whistles, Leisang in Manipur became the last village in the country to get electricity. A day later, on April 29, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India had achieved 100% electrification of its 600,000-plus villages.
Currently, microgrids in India cannot compete with conventional power in terms of costs. But with the rapidly increasing cost of electricity from the main grid and the strain on the government to continue subsidising power, microgrids could become a preferred alternative for India’s hinterland in the years to come. But first, the viability puzzle needs to be cracked.
It was touted to be a “historic moment”. As an electric bulb lit up like a Christmas tree amid loud cheer, claps, and whistles, Leisang in Manipur became the last village in the country to get electricity. A day later, on April 29, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India had achieved 100% electrification of its 600,000-plus villages. Currently, microgrids in India cannot compete with conventional power in terms of costs. But with the rapidly increasing cost of electricity from the main grid and the strain on the government to continue subsidising power, microgrids could become a preferred alternative for India’s hinterland in the years to come. But first, the viability puzzle needs to be cracked.

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