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Eradicating the darkness – bringing power to rural India

 

Manik Jolly, director of rural solar solutions at solar energy firm SunEdison, launched Eradication of Darkness – an electrification programme in rural India.

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The programme is featured in WWF’s report, Green Game-Changers report 2013 PDF

Manik Jolly is the director of rural solar solutions at solar energy firm SunEdison – who tells us about the Eradication of Darkness programme in Meerwada, India. © SunEdison

“Can you imagine not having electricity? Or being reliant on a diesel generator that provides limited power, while heavily polluting the air you breath? Can you even imagine looking at a ceiling fan or a reliable phone as a luxury you could only dream about?

Today, more than 1.7 billion people don’t have to imagine this, including more than 400 million in India.

Meerwada, a small, remote village of 400 people in the Madhya Pradesh province of India, is 70 km from the nearest town. With no direct roads in, there was little hope of ever connecting to the national power grid due to distance and being surrounded by protected forestland.

Meerwada is a small, remote village in the Madhya Pradesh province of India. Solar power provides reliable and clean energy for all, leading to a host of improvements in people’s daily lives. © SunEdison

In the past the children of Meerwada would strain after sunset to see their schoolbooks in the dim light provided by kerosene lamps, cooking would be done using fires and walking through the village after dark was unsafe because it was too dark to see anything. Life in general would grind to a halt as darkness fell and the path to the future was equally dark.

It is essential our industry ensure that we have a commitment to making sure those in the developing world can only imagine this scenario in the future. We must ensure that the continued development of solar technologies is having a real, transformational impact on lives in the developing world; and, in line with that focus, we were able to bring efficient, clean, sustainable light to Meerwada, India.

Today, the power of the sun keeps the lights on after dark. This renewable power is transforming the villagers’ lives with dependable electricity and economic empowerment.

Solar panels in Meerwada, India.Built with the locals in mind, these solar panels now provide reliable power for the whole village. © SunEdison

The Eradication of Darkness program saw us working closely with the local residents to build a solar power plant able to deliver power to the entire village. We built relationships with the village leadership, assessed their needs, outlined the possibilities and partnered with them to build the right system. Construction took only four months, and today the 70 homes in the village have sustainable, dependable electricity.

Life in Meerwada has been transformed.

The streets are lit. Studying takes place after dark, with education available at the touch of a few keys. People are able to work in the evenings. Consistent communication is possible via reliable cell phones, and lit streets and outdoor areas allow villagers to ensure the outdoor safety of their families and livestock.

Schoolchildren are no longer straining over books in dim light during the evening, thanks to a reliable electricity supply. © SunEdison

A safe water supply is convenient for all, with a solar-powered water ATM bringing safe, purified drinking water into the centre of their community – ending the need to walk miles for water that may or may not be safe. They are even able to keep the interior of their homes safe, as they can now see the snakes that like to sneak into their homes at night.

We covered the costs for construction for all of it – and today they have ongoing power for the same cost as a few kerosene lamps burning dimly in the darkness.

This is not limited to Meerwada. Other villages in the surrounding areas are being inspired by the shining example of Meerwada, and their future dreams have been lit up by the potential of solar power. Our goal with the Eradication of Darkness program, is to light up 150 villages throughout India, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

By providing a renewable, sustainable, clean and reliable solar power solution to villages, we are empowering those in the developing world – and blazing the path towards a brighter future for the next generation.”

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