Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set up an ambitious target of providing 24/7 access to electricity to every Indian citizen by 2019. Ministry of Power is aiming to provide grid connectivity to all villages by 2017 and has extended grid access to over 10,000 villages in the past year. Currently, over 200 million people in rural areas don't have electricity access and a similar number of citizens are suffering due to an unreliable grid and poor power quality. The Government of India is not alone in this quest to supply energy access to people at the bottom of the pyramid. Various entrepreneurs are testing the waters by introducing innovative off-grid solutions like solar lamps and renewable energy-powered microgrids in their effort to provide energy access for all. However, this sector is fragmented and unorganized leading to its inefficacy. This, in turn, is causing a roadblock for social and technological innovation at the very bottom of the social pyramid, leading to microgrids and related off-grid solutions becoming an expensive affair.
In this context, a need for a platform to bring transparency and innovation to the system has been recognized. Customized Energy Solutions, a leading energy services company, has developed an initiative under India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) that looks to provide the rural consumer with affordable and reliable power. The Micro-grid Initiative for Campus and Rural Opportunities (MICRO/ https://micro.ces-ltd.com/) is an international initiative that has set a goal of reducing the cost of electricity in rural microgrids by 30-50% within next 3 years through innovation and collaboration across stakeholders.
The MICRO team believes that microgrids in India have vast potential to transform the economic landscape in rural India as well as provide improved power quality for consumers in urban townships to critical infrastructures like hospitals and university campuses. To achieve this dream, the sector would need to be organized.
At the heart of MICRO lies an IoT (Internet of Things) based portal which incorporates a remote monitoring platform with supply, demand, and funding aggregation capabilities. The portal is a unique multi-stakeholder platform that allows the industry to work as a bazaar where different stakeholders like project developers (or ESCOs), funding agencies and equipment suppliers can communicate with each other, realize future business opportunities and validate the performance of current assets. MICRO is looking to involve a variety of stakeholders, namely technology providers, regulators, microgrid developers, end-users through local not-for-profit organizations and Funding Agencies in its effort to make microgrids techno-commercially sustainable and link electricity to economic development.
MICRO is supported by Alliance of Rural Electrification (ARE), Global Energy Storage Alliance (GESA) and Rang De and has received USAID's prestigious PACESetter Award for innovative clean energy initiative. The MICRO portal (www.micro.indiaesa.info) will be launched at a workshop at IIT Bombay on 19th August 2016.
The India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) was launched in 2012 by Customized Energy Solutions to promote energy storage and microgrid technologies and their applications in India. IESA does this by creating awareness among various stakeholders to make the Indian industry and power sector more competitive and efficient, and by promoting information exchange with the end-users to assist with more informed decision making. IESA also provides insights to technology developers and system integrators on the policy landscape and business opportunities in India through frequent interaction with key stakeholders.