Tripura To Connect 9,250 Remote Houses With Solar Micro Grids

Highlights :

  • Centre is giving Rs 81 crore to Tripura for the establishment of 274 solar microgrids in remote areas.
  • Having conventional electricity in these areas is not a good idea due to low population density and low profitability.
Tripura To Connect 9,250 Remote Houses With Solar Micro Grids

As the Central Government continues its infrastructure blitz in the North East, it has now allocated Rs 81 crore to the state of Tripura for the establishment of 274 solar microgrids in remote areas of the state. The solar based microgrid would illuminate more than 9,000 households and the initiative is part of the Ministry of Development of Northeast Region (DoNER).

Solar microgrids will be installed in hamlets situated in Dhalai, Unakoti, and South, West, and North Tripura districts where conventional electricity is not a good idea due to low population density and low profitability. Approximately 9,250 families are expected to benefit from this project.

The Northeastern state still encompasses tribal and non-tribal settlements lacking electricity access due to geographical isolation and low population density. The project aims to bring light to these homes by harnessing solar power. Each solar microgrid will vary in installed capacity, ranging from 2 KW to 25 KW, based on the population of the respective habitation.

As per reports, the tariff details are pending finalization and beneficiaries are anticipated to contribute a nominal amount for power consumption. The commencement of the project is projected within the current fiscal year.

As per Tripura Renewable Energy Development Agency (TREDA) Tripura has potential to generate 2,000 MW of solar power but is currently generating only 19.50 MW. Recently, Tripura unveiled its Energy Vision, aspiring to generate 500 MW of solar power by the year 2030.

Recently, the government decided to set up a 130 MW floating solar power plant in Doombur Lake in Gomti district of Tripura. In this regard, Tripura Renewable Energy Development Corporation has signed an agreement with NTPC for feasibility study. The plant would be able to generate about 200 MW of solar power by 2030.

The RE Doldrums in North East

Over the past eight years, India has experienced significant growth in its national renewable energy sector, marked by a three-fold increase. However, the northeastern regions present a contrasting scenario. While Tripura, Mizoram, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh have become power surplus states, they face challenges in deploying solar power projects.

Despite the Prime Minister’s commitment to electrify every village, a dichotomy persists in the Northeast. Many human habitations lack a direct and reliable electricity source. Take the example of Meghalaya for instance where only 61% of households have electricity.

The primary obstacle to deploying solar power projects, including microgrids, in the region is the rough terrain and dispersed population in hard-to-access villages. Solar irradiation and wind availability also pose challenges, significantly affecting the feasibility of solar power plants. Western Indian states like Rajasthan and Gujarat outperform Northeastern states as they generate 25-40% more electricity.

The rough terrain increases infrastructure building costs. Hence the North East states find purchasing power from states with higher generation potential more economical.

Also, the Northeast’s energy demand curve is problematic, with peak demand occurring during late evening hours when solar irradiance is diminishing. Therefore, microgrids must be accompanied by storage to meet peak demand and serve remote households.

But there is change in the direction of winds. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) held that the northeast region holds a remarkable renewable energy potential of 129 GW. Utilization of RE is low and solar power utilization is even low. Now the governments are advocating for the decentralized and distributed deployment of solar projects, such as solar-based microgrids in difficult terrains of entire North East, to bring immense benefits and foster community self-reliance.

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