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Indian Energy Sector

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India joins rush to renewables, but its rural solar systems fall off grid

Over the past three decades, India has installed thousands of mini solar grids across the country, mostly in remote villages yet to be reached by traditional electric power. Decentralized solar infrastructure — including panels on roofs, electric water pumps and streetlights and local distribution networks — has been touted as a way to electrify the poorest areas and augment the country’s transition away from fossil fuels. But maintaining these solar systems has proved to be more than the government can handle, leaving deserted panels and batteries far and wide.India’s experience is a cautionary tale for a world that is racing into renewables, installing solar energy systems at a breakneck speed with scant planning for how to maintain them in the years to come. “We are rushing to find solutions. I don’t think we are thinking through the unintended consequences of the solutions that we are promoting at this time,” said Anurag Danda, a director in the World Wide Fund for Nature in India. “We might be creating a second-order problem — fixing something here, but creating a problem somewhere else.”About 4,000 solar mini-grids have been installed in India, of which 3,300 are government financed and owned, according to information collected early this year by Smart Power India, a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Foundation, and provided to The Washington Post. Only 5 percent of the government grids are operational, the group found. With much publicity, the eastern state of Bihar launched its first “solar village” in 2014. By 2021, Mongabay-India reported that the village’s power station had been turned into a cattle shed. A study by Aviram Sharma, a university researcher in Bihar state, found that almost half of the village’s solar connections went out of use within two years. According to another report, by Mongabay-India, the first solar village in the nearby state of Odisha met a similar fate.

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21 more agrees trigger contact with the recipient

  • George Kariuki

    45 w

    The locals should be trained on how to maintain them.

    • Kevin

      45 w

      Contracting bogus companies to install solar networks is risking peoples lives and creating delays in access to clean energy.

      • Christina Carlmark

        45 w

        It is sad, and dangerous, when new initiatives like solar villages are not followed up with right support and maintenance.

        • Hilda Wangui

          45 w

          Solar energy is the way to go about they only need to amend their ways and reconnect the systems again

          • Harrison wambui

            45 w

            Solar panels will more difference fof 5he climate because of clean energy

            • Annett Michuki..

              45 w

              they were on the right track, this issue should not hold them back

              • Princess

                45 w

                Thats a good review, the cost of solar panels it depends on solar panels performance and quality. As per my knowledge it is decided by the government of a country and solar panels providers based on solar product..The government ought to find the solution so that its people can access clean energy. Solar panels are worth investment and saves alot of money in the long run.

                • Munene Mugambi

                  45 w

                  Solars have always been part of our lives but we need them to be more dependable and produce more electricity

                  • walter lungayi

                    45 w

                    They should solve this problem so that they can access clean energy because that's the way to go

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