You can have all the wires, transformers and light bulbs in the world. But if you are ‘energy poor’, it is all pretty useless.
Welcome to a little-noticed, but crippling, issue plaguing Indian villages, even as tens of thousands of kilometres of wire continues to be faithfully strung from one lone village to another. Rural India has an overwhelmingly intermittent power supply, especially in the late evenings and nights – ironically when it is needed the most.
This leaves the residents with no other option than to fall back to candlelight or kerosene lamps.This ‘darkness’ has a profound economic impact as well. With power supply so confused, it is almost impossible for any industry to settle in this rural hinterlands.
Naturally, these factories and industries must ‘migrate’ to cities, and the rural workforce follows them—sometimes to urban slums—in their hunt for a livelihood.
There are other impacts as well. Just consider the educational deprivation younger generations face, for whom studying after sunset becomes inconvenient.
There is plenty of talk about how this is a serious issue. But actual on-ground solutions are hard to find.
Innovative solutions are the need of the hour that can not only bring uninterrupted electric supply to these villages but also be implemented sustainably. The best solutions leverage advanced technologies. And when it comes to a sustainable energy source, what can better than the Sun!
So, Can we bring these two crucial components under a single umbrella?
Well one organisation, based in Puducherry, is doing it via a search engine! Now that is innovation!
Solar Village Search Engine (SVSE) is an initiative pioneered by Auroville Consulting, a unit of non-profit organisation, Auroville Foundation that focuses on developing sustainable urban and industrial development policies as well as ecologically friendly technologies.
The SVSE works like any other internet search engine. It helps users to search the web using keywords.
What makes this search engine innovative is the claim that the income generated from sponsored advertisements will be used to solarise rural India, starting with Tamil Nadu.
Speaking to The Better India about their work and the impact they intend to make, Martin Scherfler, who is the co-founder of Auroville Consulting, shares, “I feel passionate about how technology can make people’s lives better. Solarising villages is a clear way in which we can help the environment and help people. Using the power of the net seemed an obvious way in which all those who share my passion could contribute to making a greener world—without any additional cost to themselves!”
So what are the goals or changes that the SVSE aims to achieve?
By 2030, the organisation aims to solarise about 100 villages in the state and help contribute to the energy security of more than 20,000 people in its rural side.
Alongside the installation of an aggregated solar energy capacity of about 100 MW, steps in their pipeline include introducing participatory budgeting and planning, facilitating village level sustainable development initiatives and contribute to the democratisation of benefits arising from renewable energy generation at all the participant villages.
What is even better, if their undertaking takes off well, the organisation estimates to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 2.87 million tonnes!
Launched on December 5, the Solar Village Search Engine aims to hit a user base of 1, 00, 000 people for the first three months to ensure continued running.
The first village that will benefit from this initiative is Irumbai, near Auroville, where electrical engineering audits and changes in the use of saving appliances have already ensued.
You can look up Solar Village Search Engine here. If you wish to be part of this green initiative, try switching to SVSE and help fund their mission to bring the solar power to our villages in a ‘search for a brighter tomorrow’.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)