Share this :

Context :-

  • Estimates suggest that India has doubled the electrified rural households, from 55% in 2010 to 96% in 2020.
  • And despite greater electrification, power supply is often unreliable in rural areas.
  • This, however does not account for connection to public utilities and social infrastructure such as schools, community spaces etc.

Solar energy as a solution:-

  • Recently  to address the problems, the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) has ordered the State’s discoms to solarise unelectrified public schools.
  • The RERC has also suggested installation of batteries to ensure storage of power.
  • Apart from enabling education, this ruling would benefit several other crucial aspects of rural life.
  • The RERC order also directed discoms to seek corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for the solarising drive and allows schools ownership of the power systems in a phased manner.
  • This removes the burden of infrastructure development expenses on discoms, while also ensuring clean energy for the schools.
  • The power that is generated could also be counted towards the discoms’ Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).
  • Large-scale projects are generally financed by companies that wish to profit from economies of scale. They are less interested in investing in rural electricity as it is not as lucrative.
  • Large-grid based projects add to the supply of power in urban areas, and therefore, only marginally further the greater energy access goals.

Decentralised model of power generation

  • While Rajasthan has land mass with vast, sparsely populated tracts available to install solar parks, bulk infrastructure of this scale is susceptible to extreme weather events.
  • With climate change increasing the possibility of such events, a decentralised model of power generation would prove to be more climate resilient.
  • With battery storage, the susceptibility of grid infrastructure to extreme weather events could be mitigated. This is called climate proofing.
  • As solar installations become inexpensive and with rapidly advancing battery storage technologies, decentralised solar power generation has become a reality.

Conclusion

The ruling by Rajasthan’s power regulator not only helps in increasing access to electricity, achieving targets of renewable energy but also suggests solutions that other States can emulate.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this :