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Villages will lead the development of renewable energy in India:Dr. Arun Tripathi-Director, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

The Remote Village Electrification (RVE) program under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) was a program introduced in the year 2009-10. The objective of the Programme is electrification through renewable energy sources of those unelectrified remote census villages and remote unelectrified hamlets of electrified census villages where grid connectivity is either not feasible or not cost effective.

In accordance with the approved definition of village electrification, remote villages/hamlets will be deemed to be electrified if a minimum of 10% of the households are provided with electricity and electricity is also made available for community facilities and for dalit bastis (habitations) of the village, if any.

Projects should intend to cover all the households in the village/hamlets, including those in the dalit bastis of the village, and creation of capability for availability of electricity as laid down in the National Electricity Policy, 2005, i.e., a minimum of 1 kWh/household/day. However, if the state governments conclude after due consideration that the norm of 1 kWh/household/day is not achievable in a cost effective manner through various Renewable energy technologies, due to inadequate availability of the resources, then as a last resort they may decide to provide at least the basic lighting facilities through solar photovoltaic homelighting systems for each of the willing households in the village.

MNRE had proposed a plan outlay of Rs 2,500 crore for its rural energy schemes for the current Plan period including Rs 650 crore for RVE, Rs 900 crore for non-electrical RE systems and Rs 250 crore for biogas scheme. However, Rs 1,000 crore outlay was approved. The ministry has managed to electrify only 2,300 villages out of the targeted 5,000 since March 2007, with an expenditure of Rs 272 crore — 90 per cent of the budget estimate of Rs 303 crore.

According to reports, villages, industries and shopping centres will lead the development of renewable energy in India in the coming years, a senior official from the New and Renewable Energy Ministry told a seminar in Singapore today.

“The Indian market for renewable (energy) is huge,” said Dr Arun Tripathi, a director and a scientist at the ministry.

Some 100,000 villages that are yet to get power would drive the installation of new renewable energy capacity, especially solar systems, he added.

Renewable energy would also be developed by industries and shopping centres, as the government offers capital investment-supporting incentives, in some cases up to 50%, he said.

Dr Tripathi pointed out that 400,000 villages out of the 500,000 in the country are only able to enjoy partial power supply every day.
Panchabuta has earlier talked about the opportunity this provides and our belief  in “Mirco Power Projects” that will be off grid will contribute significantly to the success of rural electrification in central and the agricultural belt of India.

While Solar will continue to play a major role in off grid, the contribution of “Rice Husk Power Plants” will also be significant as they are of a much lower capital cost.  MNRE has been doing a great job in encouraging this through its partnerships with the states and  NGOs to develop a sustainable business model.

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