RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES

India

We install solar mini-grids and sell the energy for domestic and productive uses in rural India. We support these communities to build financially and environmentally sustainable businesses from the energy produced. The villages experience positive environmental, social and financial outcomes such as a reduction in CO2 emissions and increased household incomes. Women spend less time on domestic chores and children study longer under healthier lighting.

Green-house gas emissions have reduced by 47.8%

The Challenge

240 million people, or 20% of the population, remain without access to electricity in India. The majority –220 million people – live in rural areas.

Fossil fuel-based approaches to electrification are ineffective and increase CO2 emissions. Shortfalls in payments, poor metering and inefficient billing lead to a downward spiral of poor performance, inadequate investment, high transmission and distribution costs and regular power outages from distribution companies.

In spite of poor access to energy, India is the third-largest country in volume terms of CO2 emissions in the world, behind only China and the United States.



The Solution

Decentralised village-level mini-grids based on renewable energy allow rural agricultural communities to access modern forms of energy in a manner that raises their incomes and reduces CO2 emissions to deliver proven social, environmental and financial benefits.

Mlinda is installing scalable and replicable model of decentralised village grids to increase access to energy. Mlinda installed 8 such grids in 2017 and plans to install 50 by 2020. They meet domestic as well as agricultural needs. The grids are metered, provide flexibility to pay according to their individually determined needs. Confident that they only pay for what they consume, users are willing to invest in energy to increase their income and well-being.

© Mlinda

The GDP per capita has increased by 10.6 %

The Method

1Community engagement and standardised village selection criteria

Mlinda has designed a village selection survey based population size and distribution, the presence of the grid, water sources, ability and willingness of households to pay, existing and potential demand for agricultural applications, availability of land. Mlinda also engages with the community to foster trust and ensure deep understanding of community needs.

2Load analysis and Grid design

We have designed a modular grid system based on solar power with diesel for back-up and peak management. The grid can power single and three phase electrical devices, adapted to a range of agricultural and domestic devices. The three phase loads, used primarily for income generating opportunities such as agricultural activities, operate during the day. This reduces the grid’s reliance on batteries for energy storage.

3Installation, maintenance, monitoring

Mlinda has field engineers as well as operators and community link workers assigned to the villages to ensure repair and maintenance issues are addressed promptly. These workers also collect recharging fees for existing meters and connect new households to the grid.

4Support to agricultural businesses

Mlinda has a business development team present in the region dedicated to supporting villagers to make the transition from diesel and kerosene equipment to electrical devices. This team also provides marketing support to the community to develop new business opportunities such as processing oils, wheat or rice production.

The objectives

Energy Access

  • By 2020 Install decentralise mini-grids across 50 villages reaching 40,000 people in Jharkhand State, North Eastern India.
  • Provide 24 hr / 7 days a week, reliable and affordable energy to connected households
  • Provide single phase energy for domestic needs such as lighting and small water pumps
  • Provide 3 phase energy for agricultural businesses such as oil processors, wheat millers, rice hullers and larger water pumps for irrigation.

Impact so far

  • Mlinda commissioned an independent impact assessment of our first 8 mini-grids operating in 9 villages (two villages share a mini-grid). Thanks to their research methods, we can attribute improvements directly to the impact of our mini-grids. The results are encouraging:
  • The Village GDP has increased on average by 12.7%
  • Green-house gas emissions have reduced by 47.8%
  • The energy efficiency of GDP has increased by 115.6 %
  • The GDP per capita has increased by 10.6 %
  • Women spend less time on domestic chores and more time on productive activities
  • Children can study for longer periods under less harmful lighting

The Milestones

2012 - 2016

Pilot

Between 2012 and 2016 Mlinda installed 300 pico and micro grids and 9 village-wide mini-grids totalling 300 kWp of energy in two states in India covering 2200 homes, 365 shops and 3 schools saving 450 tons of GHG emissions per annum.

2017

Launch of mini-grids

Building on lessons learnt from the pico-grids, in 2017 we embarked on a programme to install larger pay per use mini-grids. We installed 8 mini-grids in 2017.

2018 - 2019

Expansion

Between 2018 and the end of 2019 we intend to install up to 50 mini-grids using the agricultural devices as ancho loads for the grids.

2020

Scale

2020 we intend to scale further and work with partners to replicate the model so that agricultural producers in rural India can continue to increase their incomes while reducing green-house gas emissions.

PRESS