Plan to electrify 20,000 villages with solar power

The Hindu, Wednesday, Feb 18, 2004

MADURAI, FEB.17 . The Union Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources will electrify 20,000 remote villages across the country, using solar power by 2007, according to N.P. Singh, Adviser, Union Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources. Talking to presspersons here on Monday, Mr. Singh said the villages could not get power because of their distance and hilly terrain. The Ministry would implement the project with the help of the State Governments. On energy generation through non-conventional means, Mr. Singh said the Government planned to step up production from 4000 megawatts (MW) of grid quality power to 10,000 MW by 2012. India had emerged as an exporter of solar panels and cells in the last three years. It had marketed solar energy products worth Rs.11 crores for generating 45 MW, in developed countries.

In the first phase of electrification using solar power, a total of 154 hamlets would benefit in the State, said K. Allaudin, Chairman and Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency. Under the scheme, all 7,100 households in these hamlets would be given solar power generation kits, worth Rs.12, 000 each, for using two lights, along with streetlights. Meanwhile, Anna University would conduct a detailed survey of energy requirements in another 250 hamlets, for which solar power would be provided in the second phase. Earlier, speaking at a seminar on `Uses of Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Technologies for Small and Medium Industries', organised by the TEDA, the District Industries Centre and the Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association, Mr. Allaudin said that Tamil Nadu, with 1400 MW of power, was the highest generator of power through wind farms. He said 15 per cent of the power generation was through the wind resources, while the national average was just 3.5 per cent.

Calling upon the industries to generate power through wind farms, Mr. Allaudin said the State Government was offering "wheeling and banking facility", through which power generated at one place could be utilised by the industry, through tie-up with the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, at a nominal charge of 5 per cent. Besides, the industries could get an accelerated depreciation benefit of 80 per cent of the capital invested for power generation, he added. He said 31 applicants had been selected for power generation through biomass in the State. The number of units had been restricted to two per district to ensure free supply of raw materials. However, the number could be increased depending on the availability of agricultural waste, for which Anna University was conducting a district-wise survey. The District Industries Centre General Manager, R. Arangannal, and the MADITSSIA president, K. Ramachandran, also spoke.