Renewable energy sources derive their energy from existing flows of energy from on-going natural processes, such as sunshine, wind, flowing water, biological processes, and geothermal heat flows. A general definition of renewable energy sources is that renewable energy is captured from an energy resource that is replaced rapidly by a natural process such as power generated from the sun or from the wind.
The exploitation of renewable energy resources and technologies is a key component of sustainable development (Anon, 1995). There are three significant reasons for it, viz. They have much less environmental impact compared to other sources of energy, One promising technology, solar power is worth considering for it’s sustainable, renewable and emissions-reducing qualities. Modern solar power systems use photovoltaic (PV) to collect the sun’s energy and convert into electricity. “Photo” means produced by light and “voltaic” is electricity produced by a chemical reaction. Solar PV does not require any fuel, has no variable costs, it is a zero-emission source of energy, sunlight is widely available free of cost & is inexhaustible, besides it can power systems ranging in size from a pocket calculator to multi-megawatt power plants. Some disadvantages of solar PV system include its high initial cost, regular replacement of batteries and being a diffused source of energy limiting its usage for certain devices.
Access to energy is a major challenge for improving the living conditions and economic development. Pollution-free, safe and efficient solar energy is a clean and renewable alternative to fossil fuels. Solar energy is a key to helping our society shift away from today’s energy system built on polluting fossil fuels. Solar energy is often cheaper than energy from fossil fuels.
With the vision to provide access to clean energy SeSTA has partnered with Schneider Electric India Foundation and SELCO Foundation through two Farmer Producer Organization promoted by SeSTA in 2018. This partnership has envisioned several innovative projects related to making a clean source of energy available to target communities and areas.
The main objectives of the partnership between SeSTA & SELCO are:
- SELCO & SeSTA are working to build a Solar Home Lighting System and other renewable energy products on livelihoods and services.
- They aim to make these systems affordable to the household through a Revolving Fund and Bank Finance
- They aim to improve access to reliable energy, energy-efficient appliances, and sustainable infrastructure.
- Overall GOAL of the partnership is to collaboratively develop replicable and holistic interventions that improve the lives of communities most affected in these marginalized areas.
Most of the villages having difficult access like the villages in Boitamari, Rangjuli, Kuchdhowa, Tapatari, Manikpur, Bidyapur and Sidli blocks of Assam are poorly electrified. Even those which are electrified, face continuous power cuts creating great hassles. With the help of Schneider Electric India Foundation and SELCO Foundation, SeSTA has been able to make a great impact on the lives of people in these rural areas. The communities are able to access a clean and cheap source of energy. Attempts were made to generate solar-based livelihood by the reduction in costs of production compared to traditional livelihood.
SELCO’s project on renewable energy was started with the installation of 6 numbers of solar home lighting systems in 3 villages namely Gorsingpara, Pub Enkarbari and Nangalbhanga (2 System in each village). Procurement of these systems was done through ENVO Business solution. The installation process was led by Mr. Sontosh Sutar of SELCO and was ably supported by 2 technicians from SeSTA FPO who were earlier trained on renewable energy as well as installation processes.
This installation was followed by conducting a series of awareness programmes in different villages with community institutions like SHGs, Village Organizations, Farmers, etc. on solar energy, solar home lighting, and livelihood machineries like rice huller, water pump, sewing machine, grinding machines. Provision was made for the creation of Lok Seva Kendra in villages. These kendras are Integrated Energy Centres established in some villages namely Nangalbhanga, Pub Enkarbari, Paschim Enkarbari, Jauliabari, and Gorsingpara. Its increasing impact upon the acceptability of Solar home lighting systems in a community is gradually observed. More and more farmers are gradually accepting solar-based home lighting system including solar based inverter system and other solar-based products.
Since the beginning of the partnership with SELCO Foundation, a total number of 67 home lighting systems have been installed across 6 different villages. Six of them were demonstration units.
The partnership also worked towards the creation of solar-based livelihood systems. Lok Seva Kendra at Jauliabari and Solar based motorized sewing machine at Bamungaon were installed. Other solar-based agriculture-related livelihood projects like Solar water pumps, solar rice hullers have also been identified and we are working towards their installations. Provisions are being made to provide financial support to the interested members of the community through a bank linkage. Further, an effort is being made for expanding the reach of solar home lighting systems through the key stakeholders in the area like Assam State Rural Livelihood Mission. SeSTA is also working with different vendors towards setting up of solar product assembling so the products can be made available as per demand.