About one fifth of Indians — over 250 million people — have no access to electricity. Several hundred million more have only intermittent, unreliable access. For this reason India is implementing an ambitious program to provide every home in the country with a “microgrid” (solar panel + battery + 5 LED lights + fan + power plug) by the end of 2018. Prime Minister Modi wants the full country to be electrfied, even if at modest levels. Microgrids are limited, providing perhaps 125w of continuous power (which is much less than my home in CA uses even when all devices are turned off). Having reliable light and cooling, however, is a major step.
The impact of this program is hard to overstate. When a household has (even modest) reliable access to electricity, it means kids can study at night, less indoor air pollution from kerosene, better communications, enhanced job opportunities, increased public safety, and many other benefits. It also of course heralds the coming of broadband.
In the same way that India mostly skipped land lines and went straight to cellular, it is skipping the national grid and going straight to distributed electrification, at least in rural areas. The government has even launched a dashboard to highlight progress in this ambitious program.
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