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Published:Sunday, February 24, 2019 1:39 PM

Standalone Systems and Micro Grid: Boon to Indian Rural electrification

Renew

Development of a country depends upon the consumption of energy in the country. Electricity is the key factor in economic growth of a country. After independence, Indian power sector has shown an excellent growth in Generation, Transmission, Distribution and in regulatory aspect too. Despite all sectors performing well, one component of Indian power sector was lagging i.e. Supply of Power. GOI took up inatiatives like Power to All, and Saubhagya schemes. The aim of the government is supply of reliable, affordable, clean and 24*7 power to all. From Oct’17 2,50,75,259 houses out of 2,51,03,615 houses were electrified. But in remote locations electrified houses receive 4-5 hours of power supply in some pockets, while there are many others which receive power only for 2-3 hours.

As GOI already promotes renewable energy and currently India is a power surplus nation hence, one aspect remains challenging and needs to change and that is regards to infrastructure development and last mile connectivity which must be addressed immediately. Apart from the infrastructure development some other possible solutions are: -

Decentralised Power Generation/Stand Alone Systems 

Micro Grid 

Decentralised power generation/ Standalone systems 

It means introducing a very large number of small-capacity units that are all connected to the Grid or micro grid. Standalone systems generate energy from renewable sources at local level. Constructed around renewables, this energy generation method is more environmentally friendly and addresses the need of a specific area. As India having acceptable solar irradiance over the all-region in country it can go with Solar standalone systems. 

Standalone systems also consist of storage system which makes it possible to store energy from renewable sources to ensure a consistent supply of energy. These systems can store energy which can be used during the power cuts or unscheduled cuts. Recently, MNRE issue the benchmark cost for the standalone PV system with the battery packs and the same can be referred in below table: 

Micro Grids 

When grid is unable to reach at some remote locations and supply of power is not adequate then Micro grids are used. Micro grids are developed by private players, these power houses serve a community of villages, reaching homes, schools, clinics, agricultural lands and even telecom towers, which serve as a source of sustained revenue for the developers. Since, delivering of power within an area, requires substantial investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure, the tariffs of micro grids presently remain higher than the traditional grid. The infrastructure cost as estimated by some Discoms amount to Rs2 Lakh/km but the stretch in cost is worth the luminescence eliminating decades of darkness. 

The initial set-up of the micro grid involves discussion amongst all related grid parties, including the micro grid-developer, the village panchayat head and members of the local community. While setting-up a micro grid has some challenges, managing the grid supply is even more daunting.  The developer faces delays in collection of payments, while theft and leakage further add losses in collection. 

Way forward 

Still 28356 houses to be electrified in India. GOI should not only focus on rural electrification but also focus on power supply to villages. Development of generation in small rural regions can be a factor in reliable power supply. States like Karnataka and Maharashtra developing power generation in each district and Taluka wise. State Governments should also identify the remote locations in each state where people are not getting Reliable power. Then State bodies should make some specific policies, Scheme to develop standalone system and micro grid. With involvement of government the risk of business for the developers will decrease. GOI also promote some already developed successful standalone systems like HUSK POWER SYSTEM.

 

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