Patna: the City That Can Turn On Solar Energy in Bihar

Patna is the capital of Bihar, the most energy starved state in India. Although there are aspirations for 24/7 electricity supply in the city, there is still a long way to go and an urgent need for the state capital to generate electricity smartly and sustainably. The objective is to achieve Bihar’s energy independence.

In this post, we analyze the impact that solar energy makes in Patna and how it could be a solution to eradicate the state capital’s energy poverty.

Bihar’s ambition to move from an energy-starved state to an energy abundant state has been in the pipeline for a very long time. The centralized power grid system has failed to reach out and deliver energy to India’s most energy-poor state. Bihar suffers from intermittent power supply and the promise of a reliable electricity supply is riddled with doubt.

In 2011, the per capita electricity consumption of Patna was only 601 kWh and even though it is a capital of one of India’s largest states, this is 23% lower than the national average of 780 kWh and significantly lower than the global average of 3,044 kWh. This shows that the city is still very far from providing enough power to its population.

Why is solar energy required in Bihar

Bihar relies on power generated outside the state for about 70% of its requirements. The state suffers from very high transmission and distribution (T&D) losses of around 38% resulting in frequent power outages.

In Patna, they range between 2 and 9 hours a day. The power deficit is a key bottleneck for industrial and commercial growth as well as higher standards of living.

In the last 6 years, the demand for electricity in Bihar has grown at an annual rate of about 8% and the power supply position has been very inadequate, leading to a very high peak demand deficit. Studies have pointed out that in 2014-2015 the expected peak power deficit in Bihar would be 26% and an energy deficit of 15%.

Can Patna provide solar energy in Bihar?

With the proposal to purchase all the deficit power from private and unreliable players, Bihar will not only burden its electricity department and the common man but will also provide only a short-term relief. A sustainable shift from the inefficient centralized energy delivery system to a diversified decentralized energy delivery system is thus the need of the hour to ensure that the ambitions aspirations of Bihar are realized.

Patna’s comparatively stable economic growth in the last five years has put this ancient city back in the limelight of India’s investor audience. Renewable energy, especially solar energy, as a term or as a technology is not a stranger to Patna. Solar inverters are widely used in the capital city to battle the long power cuts.

Recently, the electricity supply situation in the city has improved by leaps and bounds. The Bihar Renewable Energy Development Agency (BREDA) has been working proactively in bringing various reforms in this sector. But it’s still a long way before one can breathe easy on both Patna and the state’s energy woes. The increasing dependency on central grid and private suppliers has set an imbalance in the pricing of the electricity tariff.

Concluding, Patna is the key driver of Bihar’s economy. An improved power situation in the city can help bring much needed investment into the state. For this to happen and for Patna to become a leader amongst cities, it has to consider transformational changes to its power supply.

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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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  • Frank Cayer
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