Norwegian Minister of Environment visits pilot project for solar power generation in rural India

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New Delhi, Feb 6 (ANI/Business Wire India): The Norwegian Minister of Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim, today visited a Community Solar Power Plant in Rampura village outside Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.

The pilot project has been developed and executed by Scatec Solar, a leading Norwegian systems integrator of solar, photovoltaic technology.

Minister Solheim is in India to attend the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit.

He took the opportunity to visit Rampura to examine further the opportunities that solar energy represents for bringing climate friendly power to areas that currently have no access to electricity.

Today, the most common alternative source to power generation in remote rural villages is diesel generators, which have very high operating costs and environmentally poor carbon footprint.

Scatec Solar wants to use the pilot project to demonstrate the viability, collect data and build a working model, which will enable, a large-scale roll-out across India and other similar regions of the world.

"Access to reliable and clean energy is a prerequisite for economic development and social parity. I have for a long time advocated the use of climate friendly solar energy in the rural areas of the developing world", said Ravi Khanna, President and CEO of Scatec Solar.

Electrification of villages through renewable sources of energy such as Solar Photovoltaic is consistent with the Government policies and an integral part of the solar mission initiated by the PMO.

"Access to electricity has many health and educational benefits, in addition to giving opportunities for new income generating activities. If you consider the power plant's lifespan, solar energy is already today competitive with other sources of energy, such as diesel. As prices continue to drop in the solar industry, decentralised solar power plants will become even more competitive. The notion that electrification has to be done through grid extension is old fashioned - just consider the telecommunication sector, where extending land lines have become obsolete with the arrival of mobile phones, now present in all rural communities in India," said Khanna.

The two Community Solar Power Plants are built with different distribution models: in Rampura, the power is distributed through a local mini-grid, while in Gopalpura, power is made available at a charging station where villagers can come and charge their electrical appliances.

The power will in the first stage be used for lighting, fans and entertainment/educational purposes (TV, radio, PC etc). The plants are however sized so that the villagers also may utilize the power to improve existing, or establish new, income-generating activities.

Scatec Solar has been working closely with Development Alternatives, an Indian NGO, who is responsible for the daily contact with the local community and DD Solar 23 India Pvt. Ltd.

The local partnership is an integral element of the project. The beneficiaries are required to pay for the power, and the revenues generated will cover operations and maintenance costs, as well as the replacement of batteries. The contribution by the villagers also ensures that the community is engaged in the operation and maintenance of the plant and should motivate the villagers to take responsibility of the system.

The electricity tariffs are based on what villagers currently pay for different sources of energy, such as kerosene and diesel. (ANI)

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