BHAWANIPATNA: Maligaon, an obscure village located in a remote corner of the State, stands testimony to the change brought around by lithium cell batteries, whose developers Akira Yoshino, M Stanley Whittingham and John B Goodenough were conferred the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the year 2019.
The village, which was once cut off from the rest of the world, now gets electricity from 78 solar panels, 14 Lithium Ferro-phosphate batteries fitted in two battery banks and inverter to convert Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC). The new system, managed by four women groups who clean the panels and maintain it, has three-phase capacity for heavy inductive load and is fitted with smart meters with pre-paid system. The system was installed in the village on September 10, 2014.
It all started in 2009 when Gram Vikas, an NGO, installed 55 solar panels of 9.63 KW photo voltaic capacity and sixty 96 KWH tabular lead acid battery banks in the village. With a tariff of `100 per month, the villagers had access to electricity. The solar panels were maintained by a single operator from the village.
But owing to lack of maintenance, non-payment of bills by the villagers and other technical reasons, the panels became defunct four years after they were installed. Subsequently in 2014, the houses in the village were supplied power by GRIDCO. However frequent shutdowns and undeclared power cuts, particularly during monsoon and pre-monsoon seasons, forced the villagers to use kerosene lamps.
Mohan Patel of the village said LED bulbs helped children study at night. The village has 10 television sets that run on solar power. He said now the villagers are contemplating ways to augment their family income by utilising electricity.
Another villager, Gourishankar Naik, said all families in the village belong to BPL category. “Electricity supplied by GRIDCO is of two-phase and the supply is erratic. But the solar power grid has encouraged us to dream for our future,” he said.
Cluster Manager for Thuamul Rampur block of Gram Vikas R Gokul said Eshaan Patheria, a young graduate from Harvard University in a break up year, before pursuing his Ph.D, played a key role in reviving the new mini solar grid. The new system provides consistent three-phase power to the villagers. Even if there is immense potential in agriculture and allied sector, it will take some time for the villagers to realise their potential. For this, bank support, long term planning and proper training is needed, he said.