Solar energy has abundant applications. Tapping solar power requires the appropriate technology to reach the grassroots of India if we aim to move towards sustainable development for all. With this goal, TERI undertook the task of providing solar energy technology to a small district in Assam.
What is a Solar Multi utility (SMU)?
Solar Multi utility (SMU) is a platform that utilizes locally available solar energy to generate electricity through solar photovoltaic technology. The generated electricity is then used for a variety of applications such as charging lanterns, powering appliances such as computer, mobile phones, water purifier etc. An SMU is located near energy utilization points in a village to provide electricity services as per the need of the community.
This project dealt with designing and implementing such a platform for the Dakshin Dimoria village under the Dimoria Development Block of Kamrup district, Assam, located 40 km from Guwahati.
The SMU was designed based on the energy need assessment carried out at the project site for high-income generating and high valued service livelihood-generation activities. The design was a result of a market survey conducted by the project team for available appliances. Based on this assessment, the SMU was designed for powering appliances that included batteries for solar applications (specially for solar lanterns), water purifier, honey skimmer for honey extraction, chilli/turmeric grinder, bamboo cross-cutting and splitting machines, bamboo slivering, and bamboo stick-making machines. These appliances are involved in livelihood generation activities, and therefore of critical importance to the people.
The entire process was broadly divided into six phases that included selection of site and appropriate solar photovoltaic (SPV) technology, designing of SMU, setting up local institutions, installation and commissioning of SMU, training and capacity building of local institutions, and monitoring the performance of SMU.
As a result of this project, a fully operational SMU was developed at the Dakshin Dimoria village and thereby helped in livelihood generation. In addition to this, an established institutional framework and effective service delivery mechanism was developed for ensuring long-term sustainability of the project. An installation, operation, and maintenance manual was also developed to facilitate smooth function of the SMUs.
The concept and purpose of SMU was well accepted among the communities. TERI also demonstrated strategies for carrying out similar projects in other regions. The preliminary assessment study carried out in the area indicated a huge potential of up-scaling such SMU in similar other regions.
While the awareness about SMU was generated and the background and strategies for up-scaling such projects were created, there is a need to develop innovative technology packages through continuous technology development and customization based on the requirements and demands of the local beneficiaries. The technological advancement occurring at different related fields needs to be appropriately packaged and disseminated. Therefore, it was proposed that the future activity should revolve around design, testing, and customisation of technology packages based on the Indian rural market and demand for various end-use applications.
Sponsor: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Duration: 3 years
Key stakeholders/Beneficiaries: Local communities
- Setting up of Solar Multi-Utility (SMU) for livelihood generation in one of the sites in Assam based on the energy assessment for the community and techno-economic feasibility; and
- Developing the strategy for up-scaling such projects.
Solar Multi-Utility (SMU) Platform
Configuration of the SMU
- 5.12 kWp of solar PV array
- Two battery banks: one of 12V/ 300 Ah and other of 96V/ 200 Ah
- 5kVA Power Conditioning Unit(PCU)
- Distribution boxes
- One Grinder
- One Bamboo Cross-cutting and splitting machine(manually driven)
- One Bamboo Slivering machine
- One incense stick-making machines
- One Water purifier
- 10 solar lanterns
- Five Honey skimmers
- 8 small battery charging provision