A thematic Vikalp Sangam on Energy


Energy/Electricity - getting into the theme |> 
Even though traditional energy still addresses bulk of the needs of poor people, and alternatives need to be explored, this session is concentrating on Electricity as the mainstream is getting into renewables in a big way, and critical issues like decentralisation, democratisation and even adverse long term environmental and technological impact need to be highlighted.

VIKALP SANGAM:
                  Alternatives ConfluencesTowards Energy Democracy: A Vision Statement adopted at Bijli Vikalp Sangam at Bodh Gaya, Bihar, March 2016 read by Lalita Ramdas |>|   Text

Representatives from SELCO Foundation, Badlav Foundation, WWF, LEDEG, BASIX, Barefoot College, Ekta Parishad, Switch On and Tara Urja foundation shared their experiences
in break out sessions. The outcomes and debates were shared.

Group Discussions : Gr I |V>| : In Group I, Pravin Singh asked if we have considered all the downsides of the new push for solar power.. Will it be like the Green Revolution, which after implementation showed it ugly head

Group Discussions: Gr II |V>| 
Discussions in Group III |V>| 
Outcome at  Gr 4 |V>| 
Gr 5 |V>|

Ashok Srinivas of Prayas |>|  India has a capacity of 270 GW: 65% coal based and 20% large dams, 15% modern renewable. 95% of electricity delivered in India is unreliable. Power generation has been the major contributor of the current public bank debts.  














Where is the demand for change going to come from? |>
The larger paradigmatic change will have to come from peoples movement. However there are space in the current regulatory framework for a degree of citizen's involvement, and specialised civil society group. There is also need for some smart messaging.
 

Policy Issues |>
 As recommended by Prayas,GRID based electricity will be the cheapest, but such supply at low rates should be given to those who cannot afford it. Even the Shift to Renewable Source must be caliberated in such a manner that the burden of such change is not put on those who are basic needs consumers.

The other need is to focus on energy efficiency, including those relating to transmission and distribution losses. Further the regulatory and review institutions must be decentralised and democratic in both supply and demand areas                                                                               




Energiewende: The German Experience 








Technology:
Basic understanding and skill capacity of the technology deployed.
Lack of buy-in/technological capacity building for community is alienating.

Policy and Planning:
Un-affordability of electricity, less subsidies for micro-grid
There is no regulation for the solar off grid, which leads to proliferation cheap products in the market.
Need of a policy draft for off-grid sector and a renewable energy bill.
Technological developments have been good but the predominance of grid is problematic. So balance between grid and off-grid should be complementary.

Access to Finance:
Integration of home system into grid.
There is an investment barrier as there is hidden cost. Water-energy nexus should be explored.
Management on the demand side is common but limited focus on the supply.
Use of demand limiters and prepaid billing opportunity. For example Tara Urja (Ngo working on energy access) have created energy service companies and provide incentives to grassroots. However, there is policy challenge and practitioners are not sure which agency to approach. 


Video Documentation of the Energy Vikalp Sangam: March 2016


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Some earlier videos on Energy:



Draft Renewable Energy Act 2015

A new energy policy being prepared by the NITI Aayog will be ready in the next 10 to 12 weeks and will lay greater emphasis on solar energy and natural gas for the country’s energy mix.




Aditya Ramji: On Policy & Implementation of off-grid and renewable energy |>|
Aditya Ramji of Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW): While the Power Ministry is focused on large projects, renewable energy is governed by the Renewable Energy Ministry, which is not allocated as much resources or mandate that is needed to make it the focal point of new energy. Furthermore, decentralized solutions are completely absent from policy and planning. There is need for innovative solutions like the one announced by the Railway Minister to set up micro-grid in their remote stations, where the roof tops and land is available, which  provide power to the station as well as supply to the nearly villages.
The off-grid sector has been promoted by supplying solar lanterns, setting up home systems or  micro grids. But  RE products lack standardisation and regulation. There is a very limited data on RE installations in the country and hence, huge allocations are made without any reliable and proper information base. 



Some earlier videos on Energy:







Earlier links posted: http://lnwr.in/lwrd/VS/Energy-Prayas.html |V>|

Aditya Ramji: On Policy & Implementation of off-grid and renewable energy |>|
Aditya Ramji of Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW): While the Power Ministry is focused on large projects, renewable energy is governed by the Renewable Energy Ministry, which is not allocated as much resources or mandate that is needed to make it the focal point of new energy. Furthermore, decentralized solutions are completely absent from policy and planning. There is need for innovative solutions like the one announced by the Railway Minister to set up micro-grid in their remote stations, where the roof tops and land is available, which  provide power to the station as well as supply to the nearly villages.
The off-grid sector has been promoted by supplying solar lanterns, setting up home systems or  micro grids. But  RE products lack standardisation and regulation. There is a very limited data on RE installations in the country and hence, huge allocations are made without any reliable and proper information base. 


The Dharnai Experience
Two video: field visit

Post lunch Ramapati, from CEED, shared a presentation on Dharnai – the solar village. The origins of the experiment lay in the Greenpeace report ‘Hiding Behind the Poor, Part II’ – which highlighted the energy inequity in the country. The 2010 Bihar state election was a good time to highlight the report findings, since Bihar had 19,000 villages that were not electrified at the time. Greenpeace ran a successful election manifesto campaign to get RE on the political agenda of all the political parties. The new Bihar government released an RE policy in 2011. Greenpeace continued to work with the government and provided a roadmap, which required 76,000 crore investment. They could get Asian Development Bank and World Bank on board in this roadmap process. Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, offered that while the report looked great on paper, if Greenpeace could electrify one village and present it as working model, Bihar government would take it as an example for the rest of the state. The estimated cost was 4.5 crore per village. The project had to be a 24X7, community run community owned, community run, pilot project.

Dharnai, was chosen due to some of its interesting characteristics. It is not far from Patna and Gaya; had had electricity 30 years back, but then became de-electrified though its neighbouring villages had electricity. It was a reasonably ‘developed’ village, off a highway and had a railway station near the village. The model assumed that as demand would rise, the project should generate money for expansion, under the management of a village committee. Dharnai has 420 households spread across three hamlets; good social infrastructure  – three to four schools, model anganwadi etc. A 100 KW (70kW for lighting in 5 clusters, and 30 kW for agriculture pumps) solar micro-grid was planned.


The project was launched in July 2014, and the process of competitive bidding was employed. Evolved packages based on equity considerations (lower tariffs for the poor), with cross subsidisation based on agriculture. The realisation of unreliability of grid electricity, made villagers hopeful about solar. The village had 10 TVs and 100 fans. However, post the solar installation it shot up to 30 TVs and 300 fans in one month.

The objective of the Dharnai experiment was to challenge the centralised model of electricity generation. In addition, seven lakh INR per year was to be generated from agriculture pumps (electricity offered at half the rate of diesel pumps). However, the VEC did not agree. According to Ramapati, community ownership and decisions making has to be accompanied with capacity building, otherwise it might backfire. Consequently, they looked for agricultural pump users in other villages – as that revenue was critical for the project to function. They have only been able to install eight agriculture pumps so far (project planned for, and needs 10).


Integrated Energy Pathways’ by Shankar Sharma, Power Policy Analyst.

Mr.Sharma raised key question about ecosystem services and how we can meet legitimate energy demand.

India’s energy requirement is not legitimate. Ninety five percent of energy requirement has to be imported and we have worst power transmission and distribution in the world.

This suggests that we can be at the surplus and our first priority should be to make existing system on par with international transmission systems. The three conventional technologies, thermal, hydel, and nuclear are not sustainable and have miserably failed and so this pushes us to think about the alternatives. Renewable is an efficient alternative but the question is how much of renewable energy? The priority should be to reduce our demand and change our behaviour patterns. There is also huge potential in motional energy that is not yet explored and we need appropriate infrastructure to develop other forms of renewable energy rather than just relying on solar. We need to take into account social and environmental implications

and cost- benefit analysis as well as optional analysis for all energy. Public hearing and consultation on all issues and with immediate effect should draft a policy document as large that it can be used as a model for the country. The overall message was a need of complete paradigm shift from current GDP centred model of development.

For the above, we need to have deep and radical structural changes, as household energy is a small fraction; cement and iron industries are energy guzzlers. Envisioning for energy has to come from various sectors. People’s movement have had access to resistance but not alternatives and so the process of Vikalp Sangam is to bring both these players together with the aim to search for alternative scenarios in each sector.