How Renewable Energy Can Transform Rural India

On National Energy Conservation Day, we bring you this article from Ashutosh Verma, Founder, Exalta India, a firm that is focused on providing sustainable solutions for rural India.

The dashboard maintained by the Government to follow the advancement of electricity at the household level states that almost 99 percent of the population is grid-enabled. And merely a few thousands are yet to be powered. It is in no surprise that in rural India, with 5000 tier-IV towns and 6,38,000 plus villages, where household energy consumption is relatively less than the Industrial requirement, grids are still unable to meet their requirements. The frequent and long outages completely disrupt agricultural, industrial and household activities.

That has opened up the space for any innovative startups that are working extensively towards building solutions to improve productivity and the consequent social impact. Innovations in the energy sector are changing the face of rural India. Renewable energy is a great option for lighting Homes, Health Services transformed by Solar Electrification, Powering Productive Production Loads, Off-Grid Solar Solutions, Irrigation in Rural India and many more. These innovations portray the massive potential of Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) Systems. It does not merely provide access to electricity but also uses electricity to support the rural economy but can make them self sufficient.

Innovation for the Agriculture sector

For decades, the power supply for agriculture has been erratic as they need much more load than a normal household during specific time periods. Inconsistent policies on subsidies and poor investment in maintaining infrastructure has meant poor power reliability for them. A shift to off-grid solar solutions or grid-connected solar power plants can be a permanent relief for all stakeholders. New age technology can help agriculture further by better water management, fertilizer, pesticides and by making technology itself cheaper.  IoT along with renewable energy has a huge role to play in farming allowing remote use and control for the farmer when it comes to issues like irrigation. For Eg Solar pumps can provide reliable irrigation facilities in rural/remote areas of the country to replace the existing diesel pump used for irrigation. If we combine IoT solutions to the same that can control the exact amount and timings of water irrigation, checking soil humidity makes it hassle-free even from remote locations. Technology can also pave the way for an idea like organic farming which is considered a costly privileged practice in India. There are also clean nitrogenated watering devices that are much more organic and cost-effective. Various solar products like Solar portable inverters, solar portable cold storage and heat pumps are proving to be of immense help in many varieties of organic farming.


Innovation in Health Sector

Modern healthcare is an incredibly expensive option for the average Indian in rural India. It can easily prevent the underprivileged from ever seeking it or it ever reaching them. The versatility of renewable energy could help healthcare in remote areas away from constant electric fluctuations leading to inadequate care . This would permit patients in isolated areas to avail cutting-edge, life-saving medical technologies and have a self-sufficient electric framework to power the same. A research by CEEW showed that, on average, health facilities with solar power panels attended up to 50% more out-patients each month, handled up to 50% more institutional deliveries and accepted a more significant number of in-patients. About 98% of staff reported lower disruptions in day-to-day functioning and 80% reported savings in electricity costs.


Innovation in transportation

The constant surge in petroleum prices has increased demand for electric two-wheelers and e-rickshaws, especially in rural and urban India. One of the major factors leading to carbon emission is expensive conventional fuel for transportation. To counter these, two-wheeler electric vehicles like E-Scooter and E-Rickshaws are already being widely adopted. The idea of cheaper mobility can have both productive and social benefits. It can enable more people to take up transportation as an earning option, due to lower operating costs. From helping lower the transportation cost of a small business to helping someone reach a remote school for basic education. With low maintenance cost, zero pollution and as an extra energy to the grid, EVs are emerging as the perfect solution to multiple challenges in rural India. A supply line powered by renewable energy here will go a long way in driving this positive change further.


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