The Meghalaya government is planning to develop and install microgrid systems, powered solely by renewable sources, in selected villages in the north-east Indian state.
Our recent article, More Microgrids Coming To Remote Villages In India, shows that microgrid development is a primary strategy for rural electrification across the country.
Microgrids will relieve grid pressure
According to Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, the microgrids will relieve pressure on the grid and the saved energy can now be transmitted to the power hungry industry sector. Sangma says the idea is to sell the power at a higher rate to industries.
"We have identified certain villages in the state where there is a possibility of them being delinked from the main grid after they are provided with renewable power," Sangma said while addressing a national seminar on how the power sector has a major impact on economic growth and industrial development.
The microgrid systems will be set up in a radius of one to two kilometers in a cluster of villages and power will be generated from solar, wind and biomass (particularly made from bamboo).
The transition to a corporate culture
State Chief Secretary P B O Warjri says that the change from the erstwhile electricity board to three corporate bodies has been somewhat challenging. He explains, “There are many challenges as we change from a government- run culture (Meghalaya Electricity Board) to a corporate culture (the newly formed generation, transmission and distribution companies).” The new corporate bodies have to present their accounts professionally and adopt new ways of functioning, he adds.
Meghalaya Electricity Regulatory Commission chairman P Anand Kumar says that Meghalaya, and the country in general, has to increase its power generation by a further five to six per cent if it expects its economy to grow by eight to nine per cent in a year.
Kumar is also calling for improvements to be made to the overall transmission system as this will enable states to share and exchange power during surplus periods and avail the same during lean seasons.
Northeastern India – a potential power house
Northeastern India could be a power house of India, but inadequate transmission lines are the major impediment to transmit power from the region to other parts of the country, says State-run North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) chairman and managing director (CMD) P.C. Pankaj
NEEPCO is also executing several power projects in different states of the northeastern region, which shares borders with China, Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Many hydro and thermal power projects in the northeastern region are now at various stages of commissioning, says Pankaj. The completion of these projects will see the region generate over 6,000MW.
The hydro-power potential of the northeastern region is estimated at 58,971MW, which is almost 40% of the country's total hydro potential. Currently, less than two percent (1,200MW) has been exploited.
NEEPCO also plans to generate at least 1,500MW power from non-conventional sources of energy such as solar and wind power in the next five years.
With a population of 45.50 million in the northeastern region, the per capita electricity consumption in the region is 257.98kWh against the national average of 778.71kWh.
Nineteen power projects, including twelve 3,918MW capacity hydro power projects and four thermal power projects with an installed capacity of 5,595MW, are now in various stages of commissioning and planning in the northeastern region by different organisations, including NEEPCO.
NEEPCO currently operates five hydro and two thermal power plants across the northeastern region with a total installed capacity of 1,130MW.
The power plants would be set up in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Mizoram and Tripura.