A smart village which runs on solar power

Published: 24th September 2016 05:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th September 2016 05:06 AM   |  A+A-

HYDERABAD: At Chhotkie village deep inside the Satkosia Tiger Reserve at Angul district of Odisha, 150 homes have access to electricity and have well lit street lights. This is despite the village not being connected to the state or national electricity grid.

Chhotkie village is what experts at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) call, a smart village where off-grid power supply exists through the set up of solar power plants or by using hybrid renewable energy sources for power generation. "The entire set up is automated," claims Ameet Deshpande, engineering manager with Sun Moksha, a clean energy solutions company based out of Bengaluru.

"During day time, when there is less utilisation of power, the software in place diverts power to support micro enterprises in the village and in the evenings the power is diverted to power households and streetlights," he said. The 150 homes are powered by solar panels generating 30 kilo Watts of power daily. "We set the whole thing up with a budget of one crore rupees sponsored through the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funding," he added. Experts from ICRISAT believe, what was achieved at Chhotkie village is a viable model for a smart village. "In India, where two thirds of population lives in around 6,00,000 villages, empowering villagers to create income generating enterprises can lead to improved food security, education and health, and to participatory democracy," said Sir Brian Heap, special advisor to the smart village initiative. The smart village initiative is a three year project headed by Cambridge and Oxford universities, evaluating ways to provide off-grid energy options for development of rural villages and knowledge transfer around the globe. "Access to reliable energy will be a key catalyst to transform agriculture from subsistence to commercial enterprise, especially for youth," said Dr David Bergvinson, director general, ICRISAT. Experts urge framing of policies that increase awareness among multiple stakeholders, from farmers to decision takers about the availability of off-grid energy technologies and their benefits.

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  • Lawrence Coomber

    A global perspective on getting Smart Villages on the right track, from the outset. We have heard a lot about Smart Villages worldwide this decade, and seen a lot of ideas and models implemented widely. With the benefit of hindsight though, many models have proven to be inadequate in varying degrees, with some being desperately under resourced, contrasting with others proving to be overly generous and misdirected and therefore unsustainable. Most models though on reflection, display a lack of understanding by the social model architects of just how a few well considered and expert cost effective ‘strategic community technology and systematic fixes’ can inspire and empower a depressed community to new heights of confidence and enthusiasm as a coherent group collectively able to successfully move forward. Harnessing people power in meaningful and measurable ways is a key determinant of the sustainable Smart Village. Smart Villages or Smart Rural Cluster Communities which I also refer to, are very achievable today, but like in most human endeavors, planning and execution is everything. Smart Village solutions do share some fundamental foundation attributes though, and when implemented skillfully and to a high quality and enduring standard and specifically for the communities use and benefit, the result can provide a springboard to ‘kick start’ the community as a collective group, for increasing productivity within their proven range of expertise in all areas, as well as exploring and developing new ideas through local ingenuity and joint problem solving efforts. Importantly, adding ‘smarts’ to a depressed community provides a climate for revived confidence, dignity, and personal impetus. Individual and community aspirations become achievable goals, worthy and able to be worked towards one step at a time, diligently; affordably and confidently. The fundamental foundation attributes underpinning productive and aspirational Smart Rural Cluster Communities or Smart Villages are: 1. Reliable and functional Smart Off Grid Renewable Energy (Solar +) electricity availability particularly for key community utilities including Smart Solar Water Pumping and management systems, community education and training facilities, and essential productivity services such as irrigation and farming machinery uses. 2. Community skills building through formal community education and technological skills training designed to advance affordable modern concepts and increase productivity and community trading opportunities. 3. Cooperative society business model initiatives designed to leverage groups or networks of producers and businesses to increase efficiency and maximize productivity as a collective rather than continued reliance on inefficient duplication of systems and services. Smart Villages do definitely rely on professional and tailored support though to get started. The goal must be however that through personal initiatives within the community as a whole, productivity will increase, new ideas and ways to function will be possible to develop and implement; and a new level of community prosperity can be achieved bringing with that confidence, inspiration and personal pride and empowerment. Lawrence Coomber
    5 months ago reply
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