photo: Nomad Tales via flickr
If you ever need a great example of technological leapfrogging in practice, here it is: In the Indian state of Orissa, the state government has decided to electrify approximately an additional 2,000 villages by March 2012. But rather than hook them up to coal-fired power plants, it will be using decentralized solar power. Biomass, wind power and a variety of small-scale hydropower projects are also in the mix.Express Buzz reports that currently there are 395 villages powered through solar, with an additional 205 to be completed by the end of the year. Detailed reports to deploy solar to at the remaining villages are being drawn up.
Further renewable energy development in Orissa includes 118 MW of biomass plants, with 20 MW of that to be completed soon. Two wind power projects, 150 MW in size are in the works, with surveys for 22 more locations underway. Micro, mini and small-scale hydropower projects are also planned for deliver an additional 300 MW.
Given that in India projects can get bogged down in bureaucracy and money-in-handshakes all too often, we'll have to see how all these plans bear out. But it's a great example of how in some ways places which don't have any existing electricity infrastructure, and already low existing demand, actually have fewer hurdles to clear in bring clean power to people who need it.
What's more, the benefits for people who have so little electricity access of an additional 150 MW of wind power are far far greater than deploying that amount in someplace like the United States, where electrical consumption norms are so much higher, both by personal habit and systemic demand.
All in all though, very good news and something that needs to be emulated far and wide.
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More on Renewable Energy:
It's Official - India's National Solar Mission Aims for 20 Gigawatts Solar Power by 2022
UNEP Bringing Solar Power Into India's Rural Mainstream
Solar Power Loan Program Brings Clean Light to India