Solar Power: Lighting Up The Darkest Corners of India
While the rest of the country celebrates advancements in technology and business in urban centers, a large part of the Indian population continues to live in the rural belts. This 67 percent of the population is responsible for nearly 37 percent of the total GDP of the country. Yet, a large part of this population has remained in the dark since independence. Luckily, solar energy projects are beginning to change that and herald in a new era by lighting up the darkest corners of India.
70-years after independence, nearly 300-million people living in rural India are yet to see a light bulb inside their homes. This lack of access to grid power has resulted in a spin-off effect as clean drinking water, sanitation and healthcare get affected by it as well and proves to be a big roadblock in development of rural India. However, all this is changing, thanks to the solar power project initiatives under the National Solar Mission.
India gets an average of 300 days of sunshine every year. While, historically the cost of installing solar power projects and rooftop solar panels has been prohibitive, solar power in India has received a new boost in recent years. With rising demands for rooftop solar panels, the costs have declined rapidly, making it feasible for more people and communities to switch to solar energy. A concentrated push from the central government with favorable policies has also helped in furthering the cause of solar power in India.
Advantages for Rural Areas
Solar energy projects are not only beneficial for the rural consumers, they have a wider role to play in the overall rural economy as well. The modular and decentralized nature of solar energy projects makes it ideal for these areas. Small, localized solar energy projects act like a neighborhood utility provider for off-grid villages and add to the local economy by allowing easier access to electricity for running water pumps can benefit farming, especially in places with inconsistent rainfall patterns. Drinking water is still a very big problem in rural India and solar power can help run local water purification plants for communities. Apart from these benefits, local solar energy projects provide employment to semi-skilled rural labor force as well.
National Solar Mission
Central government’s initiative to push for solar energy and connect the most remote areas with the mainline economy resulted in the National Solar Mission. The aim of the National Solar Mission is to ensure that the vast rural population still untouched by development can experience better living standards in the 21st century. The mission lays down guidelines for policy framework that promotes solar energy projects has enabled the government to allocate subsidies and incentives for village councils that adopt solar energy. Not only has this helped the farmers by powering their water pumps, it does so in a clean and efficient way by reducing dependence on diesel powered generators.
Success of these initiatives in the near future is dependent on the central and state governments’ ability to develop better and affordable solar energy projects. Efforts must also be made to educate the rural masses about the benefits of adopting solar energy. The role of private sector in helping these government initiatives is also a must to achieve better results. Above all, the National Solar Mission and solar energy in India need the people of India to rally behind the sun and make it successful for a better future of the country.