Out of Box solution for UP power crisis

Last few days in India we are listening to a lot of noise in respect to severe power crisis in UP. Though this is not a new problem but any media/public attention is welcomed. After 16th May we are suddenly seeing a new era of hope has begun. The whole credit belongs to a person which we know as Mr Narendra Modi. Ministers have started working overtime and dysfunctional government machinery has suddenly started working. Also Mr Modi in his ten point agenda asked for out of box thinking for solving the common problem so I am putting down my idea for solving UP power crisis. I am proposing this solution based on my experience of making my home self reliable in electricity. Also I would like to acknowledge that since I am not energy expert this solution can have shortcomings and any comments/suggestions are most welcomed.

Present Scenario in UP:

The electricity deficit is close to 2150 MW in UP. Given the magnitude of the shortfall rural areas are facing power cuts of over 15 hours; the district head quarters with 10 hours power cut & the major towns have outages up to around four hours.

Power demand is increasing by more than 8% every year in UP while the state government is not able to add single MW in 2013-14 to the existing generation capacity. So in coming years this problem is going to get bigger and bigger unless some drastic decisions to improve power supply.

UP have 97942 villages with a population of 156 million and urban population of 44.4 million. Though on paper 96850 villages have been electrified as of 31 March 2013 but in reality 76 % of rural household were still dependent on Kerosene for lightening (census 2011). Given the census data is 3 years old we can assume that this figure would have reduced by 10% (highly optimistic) which still give figure of 65-66% dependency on kerosene.

In terms of absolute number a staggering 19 million families are dependent on kerosene for lightening while only 6 million families are dependent on electricity.  Now anyone can imagine the scale of the problem which we are facing.

If all these facts are correct then what is the solution of this increasing demand supply mismatch. As Thomas Edison famously quoted “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! “ . The time has come when solar power would be taking centre stage in solving the problem of energy security in India. On the similar line of “Saffron Revolution” quoted by Mr Modi himself Solar is the solution of the UP Power crisis.

Solution for Power Crisis:

We can solve the part problem of a rural family by distributing a 60 W solar panel with 2 DC fans and 1 Solar LED battery. The cost for this setup will be Rs 4300 (60*45+2*400+800) per family. The reason for 60 W is that it is sufficient for a family of 5 to supply 2 DC fan (6-7 hours) & 4-5 hours of LED light. For these 19 million families the cost will be close to 8218 Cr. Given the huge scale of economics the cost of this whole programme can be reduced to 8000 Cr.

But who should take the responsibility of the last mile distribution. The solution of this puzzle lies again in Gujarat but this time it’s not Modi. It’s the Super Modi aka Sardar Patel under guidance of whom local farmer leader Tribhuvandas K. Patel formed a cooperative and supplied milk directly to the Bombay Milk Scheme. With the time cooperative movement spread across the villages and now known as AMUL. The time has come for use of cooperatives/Self Help Group in Distributing/selling solar modules directly to the rural population.

Cooperatives have edge on private companies in social related works as private companies tend to maximize the profits on the urgency clauses while cooperatives/gram panchayats ensure that material reaches to the needful person.

First government needs to make solar banks on a zone level across Uttar Pradesh from which the District/Taluka level cooperative can coordinate for drawing the solar modules. From the Taluka level we can have small sub solar banks which can distribute to village level cooperatives. All the procurement & selling should happen at no profit no loss principle.

Best part of this whole programme is the time to complete the whole process. My understanding is that if GoI/UP government wants than they can solve this entire problem of electricity in next 6 months. As a matter of fact coal plant needs atleast 5-6 years to come up, a nuclear power plant 7-8 years and a hydropower plant takes atleast 10 years. Also the solar modules will help us to reduce the pollution by not setting up new coal mines/gas wells.

The whole solar module distribution would amounts to 1.2 GW which is little greater than last year solar generation capacity installed in entire India. This new demand will help in increasing the indigenous manufacturing of solar modules & LEDs.

Now this scheme has two major short comings: Cost & Reliability.

On a first glance the cost of the whole programme looks huge as this solar modules work only in daytime that also on a cloud free day.  But we can see this expenditure as a cost of empowerment to people which gives the UP government a flexibility to supply 24&7 power to all other areas without power cuts. Also after the closing hours of factories, offices, shops i.e off peak hour’s electricity can be supplied to these rural hamlets as these are officially electrified. To recover 8000 crores distribution companies can put a surcharge on the 24&7 supply. Industries, offices, shops & residential people would be more than happy to pay a little costly but regular electricity.

Also it will help in reducing the T&D losses of the distribution companies as the whole model is decentralized which reduces the distance between the generation & consumption point.

Overall I believe this is a win win situation for both people & government.

P.S: As I have said in the start this is based on my experience. I started in 2012 with a 60 W solar module and last year I increased it to 360 W. My village is in UP with 18 hours load shedding but my family enjoys the benefits of electricity. Seeing my initiative already 5 families have installed solar panel on their roof and I am sure in coming years my whole village will be solarified.

“The amount of sunshine energy that hits the surface of the Earth every minute is greater than the total amount of energy that the world’s human population consumes in a year!”


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