Indian MNRE minister RK Singh and Manipur’s chief minister N. Biren Singh, on November 28 launched the Saubhagya – Power to all scheme for some 175,00 households (162,000 rural and 13,000 urban) in Manipur state.
Addressing a gathering, RK Singh said: “Manipur is the fastest reforming state in the power sector in the country, and its government is performing well.”
He added that PM Narendra Modi’s vison is to ensure each household in the nation has access to electricity. “This is such a scheme where even the poorest of the poor can afford electricity in their homes,” he said.
RK Singh also mentioned that the government has already given obligation to private companies to provide 24×7 power supply to every household, and it is expected that by March 2019 every household in Manipur will be electrified.
The state, however, will require a lot of new power capacity to meet that goal. Indian government recently shared its solar and wind installation roadmap, where PV is poised to take the majority share. It is expected that several PV rooftop, micro- and mini-grid tenders will be released in addition to a focus on utility-scale projects; an understandable approach given the March 2019 electrification target.
The state’s large-scale ambition requires significant financial support. Thus, the Saubhagya scheme will receive $2.45 billion (INR 163.2 billion) including Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) of $1.91 billion (INR 123.2 billion) from the government. A required portion of that figure will be released for strengthening and infrastructure in the power sector in Manipur. RK Singh confirmed that financial assistance had already been extended for procuring transformers, meters etc. to strengthen the power sector in the state.
As part of the scheme, all States and Union Territories of the country are required to complete household electrification in their respective jurisdiction by March 31, 2019.
Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC), run under the Ministry of Power, has been appointed as the nodal agency for coordinating the implementation of the scheme. The prospective beneficiary households for free electricity connections under the scheme will be identified using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011 data.
24×7 power supply seems far away – BNEF
Energy access has improved, but 24×7 power-for-all seems far away, says Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in its latest research. According to BNEF, even after a dramatic improvement in village electrification levels in the last three and half years, the quality and reliability of electricity supply in rural parts of the country remain poor. This provides an opportunity for renewable energy sources, either with battery storage or in combination with diesel generators, to provide reliability in power supply.
However, according to experts this scheme comes as a risk for off-grid sector. BENF concludes that if the government fulfills its promises of 100% electrification and 24×7 power, then this would jeopardize the off-grid businesses. Even 50% achievement of both will alarm investors.