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The Role Of Solar In Rural Electrification in India

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The Myth of 100% Rural Electrification in India

India is a huge country with an ever-increasing demand for power. The government of India has committed to electrifying all villages by 2018 and supply power to all households by 2019. Solar and other renewable energy has a huge part to play in the Indian rural electrification. Many rural parts of India are not accessible to the grid. With renewable sources of energy like solar and wind becoming very affordable, they are gradually becoming more and more mainstream. Concepts of Mini and microgrids and community solar are building up in such parts of India.

Read more about Powering Rural India through Renewable Energy


India’s $11 billion rural electrification program, called Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna, had a target of delivering power to 18,452 villages by 2018. Of these, 14,204 could be served by grid extensions and the remaining 3,449 with off-grid power. Indian Rural electrification was also prioritized in the Budget of 2017, with 18,452 villages pledged to be powered by March 2018.

According to news, 13,523 villages had been electrified as of May 2017 but only 8% of these villages had 100% household connectivity. Less than 50% of rural households in Uttar Pradesh, Nagaland, Jharkhand, and Bihar had electricity. As of December last year, Bihar was listed as being 100% electrified – definitely a feat achieved by India. However, there were 12 states in India still to be fully electrified. The government claimed that 15,183 villages were connected to the grid by this time. Getting solar and wind-powered electricity to these places solves both intermittency and cost issues for Indian villagers.

Even though the government makes tall claims about the majority of villages being electrified in India, in reality, crores of households still live in darkness. This is because of the Indian government’s definition of full electrification.

According to its definition, a village is considered fully electrified if it has –

i) basic infrastructures such as Distribution Transformer and Distribution lines in inhabited localities

ii) public places such as Schools, Panchayat Office, Health Centres, Dispensaries, Community centres etc. having electricity

iii) at least 10% of the total number of households are electrified.

One of the major loopholes of this idea is even if 90% of the households in a village are not electrified, the village still falls under the “fully electrified” category, which means there will still be no electricity in a majority of the rural households.

Though we may criticize the government for claiming that the country has been reaching a full electrification state, we must note that the county is slowly but steadily reaching there. All the government needs, is to further modify the definition and increase the number of households to be fully electrified.

India’s 100% rural electrification plan will increase the country’s overall demand for energy and hence there will be an increasing demand for utility power solar and mini and microgrids in India. The advent of storage options at a reasonable cost should further improve the power situation in India.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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