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Nikkei Asian Review: Microgrids lift villages out of dark age

Nawab Khan in his shop with a fan powered by a blue battery box
on the shelf behind it (Photo by MEGHA BAHREE)

MATHURA, India — Salma Khan, a petite, young woman, shows off her one room store where she sells food products such as lentils, flour, packaged noodles and biscuits. She is particularly pleased about two recent additions to her tiny village shop. In the midst of the stacks of groceries is a pedestal fan that helps her combat summer heat of above 40 C, and high on the wall in one corner is a foot-long fluorescent light. Both are powered by a battery connected to a solar panel on the roof of the shop.

Simpa Networks, a company headquartered in Noida, a vibrant business district near New Delhi, supplied her with the energy pack that came equipped with lights, a small fan and ports that can be used for charging two mobile phones.

Bridging the “power gap”

It is not cheap. Customers have to make a down payment of 2,500 rupees ($43.2) and then pay monthly installments of about 780 rupees over 28 months before they get to keep the kit. But in a country where about 400 million people have no access to power, Companies like Simpa are playing a crucial role in bridging the “power gap” in a country with a notorious infrastructure.

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Hindu Business Line: Micro-grid firms look to govt for support

Watching videos of Mera Gao Power always leaves you with a good feeling. They typically start showing a village in darkness and a woman struggling with work in the light of a kerosene lamp and end by showing bright LED lights and smiling faces. Provide solar-powered lights to villages that had never seen electricity, let the villagers pay for it out of their savings on kerosene spends—way to go!

The going was good in the beginning. MGP lit up the first village in December 2011 and by mid-2013, had covered 300 villages. Its NRI-founder, Nikhil Jaisinghani, said in a conference in 2013 that he had a “scaleable model” and 30 per cent rate of return was possible.

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Powering Rural India with Minigrids

There are many different ways to power rural India. OMC builds minigrids that provide power to a whole village – generating from 10kW up to 1MW.

Watch the film on Youtube >>
OMC’s Youtube Channel >>

OMC Behind The Scenes

Join OMC’s CEO Anil Raj and CTO Sarraju Narasinga Rao on a journey in rural India where homes, colleges, small businesses and telecom towers are switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy from OMC’s minigrids.

Watch the film on Youtube >>
OMC’s Youtube Channel >>