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India’s renewables ministry seeks comments on mini- and micro-grid policy

Prime minister Narendra Modi is on electrifying and bringing light to all of the country’s rural villages to spur social and economic progress. Flickr: ADDEVOL Design Studio
India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has invited comments from stakeholders on its draft ‘National Policy for Renewable Energy based Micro and Mini Grids’.

To achieve sustainable growth in India, along with its support for large-scale renewable energy, the Ministry is also promoting decentralised energy solutions based on sources such as solar, biomass, biogas, wind, small hydro as well as energy storage technology.

A major focus of the present government in India under prime minister Narendra Modi is on electrifying and bringing light to all of the country’s rural villages to spur social and economic progress. Micro and mini-grids are seen as a durable solution, which are able to provide a reliable and cost-effective energy service, cater to productive and commercial loads, accommodate future loads, and connect with grid and feed surplus power if necessary.

The Ministry is keen on working with States and nodal agencies to build a supportive ecosystem for development of such mini-grids.

Therefore, MNRE is issuing a policy to provide implementation solutions and approaches for overcoming common issues and challenges that hamper the growth of the mini-grid sector. Individual states are encouraged to refer to this policy document for developing their respective programmes, policies and regulations.

The main principles of the policy include:

Promoting mainstream renewable energy mini-grids for enhancing access to affordable energy services, and improving local economy
Streamlined project development procedures for energy service companies
Frameworks to operate along with the Distribution Company (Discom) grid
Optimizing access to central financial assistance and other incentives
Fostering innovation in mini-grid models to cater to rural needs

MNRE targets deployment of at least 10,000 renewable energy-based micro and mini-grid projects across the country with a minimum installed renewable energy capacity of 500MW in the next five years (taking average size as 50kW). Each micro and mini-grid project should be able to meet the basic needs of every household in the vicinity, and also aspire to provide energy for services beyond lighting such as powering fans, mobile charging and commercial requirements.

A few firms have already successfully deployed micro and mini-grid projects in the country and many others are in the process of determining a viable business model, according to MNRE.

Stakeholder comments on the national Policy are due by 20 June this year. Contact details and the draft can be found here.

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