First Fully Solar Powered Village in India: Dharnai
First Fully Solar Powered Village in India :Surrounded by stories of gloom, doom and disappointment, we do not often get to hear news worth celebrating and sharing. Here, however, is one truly worth story of being happy and proud about!Even as more than 300 million people wait for electricity in India, Dharnai in Bihar unshackled from darkness and declared itself as an energy-independent village on 20 July.
The Dharnai grid serves about 450 homes, housing 2,400 residents, ngo says, as well as roughly 50 businesses, streetlights, water pumps, two schools, health care center, and other public and private ventures. It has a battery to store excess electricity, for use during the sunless hours.
The people of Dharnai village used to have a facility supplied by the state Government, which provided electricity, but this hasn’t been available for the last 33 years and diesel generators were the only source of electricity.
While India was growing leaps and bounds, we were stuck here for the last 30 years, trying everything in the book to get electricity. We were forced to struggle with kerosene lamps and expensive diesel generators, said Kamal Kishore, a resident of Dharnai.First Fully Solar Powered Village in India.
The NGO Organisation came here in 2014. Within two months, streetlights were installed. Since then, it does not feel like we are living in darkness. And children are studying well. Villagers have many benefits from this venture, Ashok Kumar Singh, another resident says.
Built within three months and on a test-run since March, the quick-to-install micro-grid launched by ngo with the help of NGOs BASIX and CEED takes care of 60 street lights, energy requirements of two schools, one health centre, one Kisan Training Centre (Farmer Training Centre) and 50 commercial establishments.
The project did not just provide electricity for the village, but also the mandate to a better life and ambition. Youngsters like Santan Kumar, 19, had little opportunity in Dharnai, nor did they have the resources to go out of the village and carve a future. In September 2012, though, opportunity knocked.
Now Santan is an electrician and is responsible for the wiring of households that apply for an electrical connection from the recently installed solar microgrid in his village.
From womb to tomb, women of villages like Dharnai struggle every day to fulfill the basic necessities of food, water and fuel for their families. With the commencement of solar power, they are saved from the long walks enduring natural hardships, abuse, and fear of rape and death.
It required a heterogeneous village for this project where agriculture was the main occupation along with basic social infrastructure like a school, healthcare facility, an anganwadi (communal childcare centre), a commercial zone and around 400 households, according to ngo.
The coal-fired and nuclear-fired power plants of the country will not be able to reach the Dharnais of the country. Nor will they be able to address global climate concerns and India’s commitments towards those concerns. India needs to seriously reconsider its energy strategy and prioritise renewable energy for social and climate justice,said Samit Aich, Executive Director- ngo, at the launch of the micro-grid attended by more than 3,000 villagers and community leaders from 25 villages.
Extensive field research and assessment based on various feasibility criteria resulted in selecting Dharnai village panchayat in the Makhdumpur block, Jehanabad district, Bihar. Just 80 kms from Patna (on the Patna-Gaya highway) it also has a railway station, Barabar Halt.
The total land holding is 1,500 bigha and around 1,200 bigha is used for agriculture. Agriculture is the predominant economic activity and there has been a substantial energy demand for irrigation. Our survey shows that about 4,03,125 cubic meters of water is required annually for irrigation.
umulatively, the expense for irrigation is about Rs. 12,54,000 annually. With increasing diesel prices, these expenses will continue to rise further. The village settlement area, comprising houses, shops and other buildings, is around 100 bigha.
Various shops dot the village along with local eat-outs, bank, etc., constituting the commercial demand for energy. Households spread across the village in 4 clusters need lighting, fans, mobile charging; and in some cases, television. All these make Dharnai an ideal case for CEED’s demo project.