The power crisis in Rajasthan is a perennial issue that affects farmers, students and other businesses across the state. Dr Amit Yadav, an orthopaedic surgeon from Jaipur, had suffered through this like countless others.
“Thermal units often shut down, aggravating the crisis. There are frequent power outages. Moreover, in recent years, the electricity bills at my seven-bed hospital, located in my native Kotputli village, had been peaking at Rs 30,000, making daily functioning difficult,” Dr Amit tells The Better India.
To find a way to address this problem, in 2017, he installed an 11 kW solar plant on the hospital premises to serve his electricity needs. “The hospital’s electricity bills were reduced to half, bringing relief in terms of finances. Also, this ensured a steady power supply for 12 hours a day,” he adds.
Today, Dr Amit has extended the same benefits of assured power supply to hundreds of people by setting up a solar power farm on his ancestral land. This generates lakhs units of electricity each year, while also earning him a steady stream of income.
Harnessing the power of the sun
Dr Amit says that once he saw how the plant worked in his favour, he wanted to extend this facility to other residents and farmers around him, who were reeling under the power crisis. “Being an asthma patient, I also know how air pollution caused due to thermal power plants worsens one’s health,” he notes.
With some research, he learned about the state government’s Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) scheme, which offers subsidies for setting up solar power plants.
Dr Amit then set up a 3.5-acre solar power plant of a capacity that generates 1 Megawatt of electricity, which he sells to the power utility company.
“My father owns the ancestral land, which is mostly barren. We do not practice agriculture due to lack of groundwater and, as a result, it remains vacant. So we decided to set up the plant on the land, more for a social cause than to make it a source of income,” he says.
Dr Amit says that in 2019, he moved an application with the Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation Ltd to seek permissions to set up the solar plant and enter a 25-year contract with the power utility company to supply electricity.
In September 2020, he completed the formalities and installed the plant. “Setting up the plant demanded Rs 3.7 crore, and my father invested Rs 70 lakh from his own savings. The remaining funds came from the bank,” Dr Amit says.
He adds that this was a massive risk, but the family collectively decided to dive into the venture. Today, the clean energy harnessed from the sun is converted into electricity, which goes into the national grid and distributed across the state.
The solar power plant generates 17 lakh electricity units annually and earns the family an income of Rs 4 lakh a month. “We sell the electricity to the power utility at Rs 3.40 per unit,” he says.
A drop in the ocean
Dr Amit says that he faced several technical challenges in the installation of the plant. “It was the first time that the officials were working on a massive project such as ours, and it was difficult to chalk the layout, decide the structure and set up the panels. The project was delayed by three months due to technical hurdles from the government’s side. The issue was only resolved when I raised it with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO),” he adds.
However, he feels glad to have contributed to clean energy and environmental causes. “I know my contribution is tiny, but I feel satisfied even if it is 0.01 per cent. I do not have any targets on lowering pollution or increasing electricity generation with solar panels. The aim is solely to help address the power crisis and air pollution within my small capacity,” he says.
Edited by Divya Sethu