There are many concurrent benefits of a micro-grid. Firstly, it helps in exploitation of local renewable energy resource through DRE based technologies whose deployment may see harnessing clean power generation instead of polluting fossil fuel based generation. It also helps in mitigating global greenhouse gas emission and improved air quality issues locally. In addition, micro-grid can stand as an auxiliary power supplier during hours when grid power is unavailable. Such network can also improve the reliability as well as quality of power delivered. For remote areas where there is no access to conventional grid, micro-grids can be a real boon for the local community since access to reliable energy can boost (especially rural) communities’ socio-economic development.
Micro-grid in India was pioneered in 1990s by West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) when it installed a 25KWp solar PV system in Sundarban delta region. Subsequently Chhattisgarh Renewable Energy Development Agency (CREDA) initiated a solar plant in Bilaspur district. By the time of 2001 census, there were an estimated 25,000 remote villages which were considered too remote and warranted off-grid electrification. Thereafter, several micro-grid installation has taken place under the umbrella of Government of India initiatives such as the Remote Village Electrification Programme (RVEP), the Village Energy Security Programme (VESP) and Decentralized Distributed Generation (DDG) scheme across various states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and West Bengal.
Apart from the push by Government, there are multiple emerging private players who are active in establishing and maintaining micro-grids in the country. Hush Power System, a company based in Bihar, installed 90 biomass based plants in 300 villages and hamlets. All plants provide power supply through basic micro-grid infrastructure in villages who had earlier experience unreliable grid power or no power at all. Similar efforts are being pursued by a private entity called Mera Gao Power (MGP) who has electrified households in over 500 hamlets in Sitapur and Barabanki districts in Uttar Pradesh through solar PV based mincro-grids. DESI Power, another company dealing in biomass based generation technology, has implemented micro-grids in over 20 sites in Araria district of Bihar. Other private sector companies that are providing power access in rural areas of India through DRE based micro-grids are Minda Next Gen Technologies, Kuvam Energy, Gram Power, Gram Oorja, OMC power, Greenpeace, Tata solar, ONergy etc.