India launches scheme to electrify all, with solar at core

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a bold new scheme to supply electricity for all households nationwide.

The INR 16,320 crore ($2.45 billion) scheme is to be implemented by 2018, providing free connections to the poorest of people in India.
The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or ‘Saubhagya’ as it is called, has the goal of delivering connections to the estimated four crore households that currently lack access to reliable electricity.

These connections will be provided free of cost to the country’s poorest populations, Modi said. The next step would be to end the practice of load shedding and supply power 24/7, added the Minister of New and Renewable Energy, R K Singh.

During the launch of the scheme Modi remarked: “Even after 70 years there are still around 40 million households that are not electrified. Under this scheme, the government would like to electrify not just villages but also remote rural areas.”

The Prime Minister highlighted the fact that as the economy is growing it is only natural that demand for energy will increase. There has to be a balancing act, however, as currently most of this extra demand is being met by coal. Hence, Modi highlighted the importance balancing hydrocarbons with more renewable energy capacity.

Emphasizing the target of 175 GW of installed renewable energies by 2022, PM Modi said that “decreasing carbon-related emissions is a part of India’s cultural heritage, part of our tradition.” He highlighted the commitments made by India at the COP 21 conference held in Paris in 2015.

This scheme will be implemented by the government’s nodal agency, Rural Electrification Corp., which will ensure that remote areas are to be powered by solar panels.