A bright answer: Providing electricity to rural India through renewable micro grids

Mera Gao Power | India 

$300,000 | Stage 2: Testing at Scale | Energy

Mera Gao Power
Anna da Costa
 

 

 

 

The problem: Large numbers of people in India lack access to power

In India, limited power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure have made access to electricity a major development challenge. According to estimates from the Government of India, 300 million people, comprising 61 million households, live without power.

While the World Resources Institute has estimated the market for off-grid energy products in India at $2 billion, an extremely small fraction of that market is currently being served by NGOs and the private sector. Households off the electrical grid currently rely on low-quality energy sources like kerosene, wood, diesel, candles and disposable batteries. Low cost-effectiveness, detrimental public health effects and negative environmental impact characterize these sources.

The solution: Establishing microgrids to provide profitable and low-cost (sustainable) access to renewable energy

Mera Gao Power (MGP) has designed a solar-powered, village-level microgrid to provide electricity to off-grid villages in India. Through the microgrid model, renewable power is generated by solar panels and stored in battery banks that charge during the day and are discharged at night. Power is distributed to households through short length distribution lines to high-efficiency LED lights that keep power consumption low.

The potential: Cost-effectiveness, impact, and implications

DIV provided Stage 2 funding for MGP to establish its first commercial microgrids. Using DIV funding, MGP was able to improve the cost-effectiveness of its microgrid design, reducing the cost of a microgrid capable of providing power to 50 homes from $3,000 to $1,000. Construction time was reduced from one week to one day per village. A three-person team is currently able to construct the backbone of the microgrid within a few hours and connect customers by the end of the same day. By the end of 2012, MGP was serving 2,391 households across 120 villages, far exceeding the original service quantity goal.

In February 2013, secured equity financing from Insitor Management, an impact investment firm provided funds for expansion into Southeast Asia. As of April 2013, MGP brought in more revenue than it spent in operational costs, demonstrating that providing power to base of the pyramid households can generate both profits and social impact.

Read more about Mera Gao Power in the Financial Times, and get the latest on Mera Gao in the news.

Last updated: August 01, 2013

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