Numaligarh (Assam), Feb 11 : Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) as implementation partner has electrified about 720 un-electrified households in Golaghat district of Assam using Solar Domestic Systems (SDS). Three villages were also covered in Jorhat, Majuli and Karbi Anglong districts. The initiative started in the year 2016 and covered 720 households across 18 villages in three phases.
These villages were dependent on kerosene lamps for lighting purpose. Two types of systems were designed. One was with four light points and another was with one fan and two light points. In addition to fan and light points, one mobile charging point and one portable lantern were also provided. The SDS is able to operate up to 4-6 hours in a day in its full capacity. Users paid about 10% of the total cost of the system as an advance amount. NRL using its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund paid for the balance amount.
Households received quality illumination. Reduced usage of kerosene for lighting purpose was an obvious benefit of the SDS. In absence of grid electricity, the households were consuming about 5-6 litres of kerosene for lighting purpose. From Public Distribution System (PDS) a household is able to receive on 2.5 to 3 Litres of kerosene. The rest of the kerosene was procured from open market at high cost. In very remote villages, the villagers had to travel long distances to procure kerosene from open market. SDS was a boon, especially in these remote villages.
The most overwhelming response was the reduced fear of elephant and snakes among the users. Elephant attacks and snake bites are common in these villages. The users were very particular about the maintenance of the systems and used the systems as guided by the installers. The villages cherished the fan very much as the fan gave relief from the hot and humid summers. The households with fan expressed that they enjoy a better status in their village now.
Electrification work in the villages expedited since 2016. The households with SDS but without electricity were receiving quality illumination during the peak evening hours while the electrified households due to power cuts during evening hours were using low quality kerosene lamps. Households with SDS showed better satisfaction levels for receiving quality illumination after sunset hours than those which had legal electricity connections but with SDS. The economics on the expenditure on kerosene, SDS and conventional electricity indicated that expenditure on lighting was lowest among the households with SDS than the un-electrified households without SDS and the electrified households.
By the end of 2019, many of the households with SDS received electricity. SDS was very useful during rainy season and floods as the conventional electricity supply was disrupted for about 15-20 days. The primary benefit is that the users get quality illumination when required and at no regular usage cost.