How Greenpeace India Modified a Village Life in Bihar

After 30 years of living in the dark, a village in India has flipped the switch to turn on the lights. This is the story of Dharnai, the first Indian village powered entirely by solar energy. Although the darkest days may now be over for these villagers, there are still millions of Indians waiting for a light that isn’t powered by a kerosene lamp or a diesel generator.

One 20 July, 2014 the situation changed in Dharnai village in Jehanabad district of Bihar. All because of a smart micro grid installed by Greenpeace India. This ambitious solar powered micro-grid has proved that the real solution for rural electrification lies in Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE).

More than 100 kW panels installed on the roofs and fields of the village generate enough electricity daily to supply the community of more than 400 families, 50 shops and 10 water pumping systems. The results are obvious: better life for the villagers and new ambitions.

“In the last 30 years, we have tried everything to get electricity, but we had not a thread of hope of that happening. Although India has grown, we were still attached to the use of kerosene lamps and costly diesel generators” said Kamal Kishore, a Dharnai resident. “Now I can proudly say that Dharnai is a leader in innovation and that we established our identity as a self-sufficient and independent village in India,” he said.

Greenpeace India supports solar panels cost

But the benefits don’t stop at household lighting: the economy also reaps benefits. Sectors like agriculture, business, education and healthcare are also using the electricity supply. Reliable electricity in the evening has also improved educational opportunities for village children and provided much needed safety on the streets.

Dharnai is now a village where the Sun does not set and in the eyes of the 300 million other Indians that are still living in darkness, the village has become a symbol of hope. It is time for Dharnai to spread the light by becoming a global model and showcasing new possibilities in rural electrification.

For Greenpeace India – the principal sponsor for this project – Dharnai is just the beginning, the spark that will light the country. There are still more 80,000 villages living without electricity and Greenpeace India has now focused its sights on them. In the meantime, they all know that there is a way to light the darkness. The solar panels in Dharnai can prove that.

The ones still living in the darkness

Today, approximately 85% of the poor people in rural India rely on firewood, cow dung or kerosene for lighting and cooking. These fuels are harmful for the user’s health and to the environment and are the reason behind the lack of economic development in rural India.

Did you know that the largest percentage of the world’s population that does not have access to electricity is of poor people in India?  More than one third of the rural population in India lives in the dark. Nonetheless, the solution is now at hand. Decentralized and sustainable energy systems, like the one installed in Dharnai, are the solution to this problem.

Greenpeace India has urged the government of Bihar to recognize decentralized renewable energy systems, such as Dharnai, duplicate this model and provide the generated energy to the communities that are still in the dark.

You can see How the Dharnai Live solar micro-grid project is helping the residents of Dharnai on this exclusive website made by Greenpeace India.

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Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan is a staunch solar promoter, serial entrepreneur & management consultant. He has a decade of experience in solar PV, disruptive technologies and political consultancy in USA and India. He believes that development of solar and other renewable technologies is critical to India's energy security. Gayrajan holds a Masters and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from USA. Follow him on Twitter to gain daily industry insights.
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