The development of mini-grids based on renewable energy sources such as solar PV, biogas and small hydro has been a successful venture in India. The new report from the GNESD project, Renewable energy-based rural electrification: The mini-grid experience from India, authoured by Debajit Palit and Gopal K Sarangi, provides a review of this experience of mini-grid use in India by making specific references to successful cases.
While the predominant form of electrification in India, as in the rest of the world, has been and still is connection to national grids, there remain significant populations in remote areas where the grid has not reached, and where decentralised options are attractive. Combined with cost decreases and improvements in the reliability of the technology, renewable energy forms are becoming increasingly relevant to fill the gap in electricity supply to areas that are not yet connected to main grids.
This report investigates renewable energy-based rural electrification in India, with a specific focus on the mini and micro-grid experiences. It makes specific references to solar PV and biomass-based technologies implemented under publicly supported programmes like the Remote Village Electrification programme (RVEP) and the Village Energy Security programme (VESP) of MNRE. Under publicly supported programmes, two different variants of mini-grids promoted under two different settings are examined in depth. These are the Sunderbans mini-grid model promoted by the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) and the Chhattisgarh mini-grid model promoted by the Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA).
The study was partially funded by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and prepared by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) for the Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development (GNESD).
GNESD is a UNEP-facilitated network of Centres of Excellence dedicated to improving energy access for the poor in developing countries, and helping those countries with energy access policy recommendations to achieve their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The current member Centres of Excellence from developing and emerging economies include China, India, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia and Lebanon.