Women and Solar Energy in India | Colonel Ajay Ahlawat Polo-
India’s growth engine might be chugging on but rural India, considered as the heart of the country, is still lagging behind. The absence of electricity, drinking water and lack of sanitation, makes life difficult for rural India.
“Even today, about 300 million people live in rural belts of India and are consumers of traditional forms of energies like kerosene, firewood etc, which exposes them diseases and also aggravates the ecological problems,” says Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
Col Ahlawat further added, “Harnessing of solar power, a clean energy source can definitely trigger the growth of rural India. The cost of setting up solar plants is down, thereby making it a very suitable alternative form of energy for the ordinary rural household.”
Even today rural India is plagued with the irregular supply of electricity, which definitely hampers the work. Solar electricity can definitely help in a big way, especially in rural India. Installing an off-grid system to cater to the rural need is definitely less expensive than having a conventional power grid system installed.
“The present trend in India is to reduce power generation from fossil fuel and is working on solar energy generation as its primary focus. Things seem to be working India’s favour, as we have just doubled our solar capacity,” said Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
What more, the Indian government has set a target of making every Indian household get electricity, under the Saubhagya Scheme, by the year 2019. “To meet this target, the Indian government is definitely encouraging the use of solar power by making its deployment easier. Solar power plants are being set up in villages, thereby creating a direct impact on rural India,” pointed out Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
Citing the example of G.R.I.D. Pvt. Ltd., which used the micro-grid system to help household and small business get access to cheap electricity and clean water, Col Ahlawat said, “It’s interesting to see how women are coming forward in rural India to play a pivotal role in its development. You see, it’s always the women and children who have to suffer the most. Thus solar energy interventions are particularly keen on creating women entrepreneurs to usher in a solar energy revolution. This is being done, as it’s the solar electricity impacts the life of a woman directly,” said Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
Creating jobs for women
Sources indicate that to realize India’s ambitious project of generating 175 GW of solar energy by 2022 will lead to a job creation of 3,30,000, which will definitely lead to creating entrepreneurial opportunities for women.
But what will make women from rural communities take up these jobs being created in Rural Energy department? “If some tweaks are made to the existing system, then the RE sector can definitely impact rural poverty. Decentralised off-grid energy sector can provide scope for employment of local women. According to a study, India can provide quality employment opportunity to women, especially if local women are trained to participate in the green energy revolution that is being ushered in the country,” said Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
How women are leading Solar Revolution
Women are being made the pioneers of solar energy by tapping the Self-Help, which promotes women entrepreneurs. “It’s these women entrepreneurs who support rural communities to adopt clean energy services and products and promote practices that can mitigate climate change,” said Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
The fact that women can be engaged as entrepreneurs to provide India with a sustainable solution is making people approach women entrepreneurs.
ABC of Solar Power
Rural India lacks proper infrastructure. Frequent power cuts make it difficult for students to study. Solar energy can definitely provide adequate power to help the rural education system run in a systemized way and of course, also help in improving the living standard of rural India.
“Teachers of rural India can be trained to be skilled teachers, in solar computer labs. Also, it will open up avenues of self-learning through digital content for students. Lack of electricity made it impossible for the students to use computer labs,” pointed out Colonel Ajay Ahlawat.
The use of solar energy can, therefore, play a huge role in reducing the electricity bills and also improve or better the learning opportunities available in schools of rural India.
Increase in access to energy is crucial for development in rural parts of India. However, to have a holistic approach towards development of the community, it is essential that the energy access should not be limited to electrification and should be focused towards enabling the community through its use. In these areas, the small but steady supply of electricity can bring about a big social change, right from removing poverty, skill training, enhancing digital connect, creating women entrepreneurs and of course increasing the family income. This can definitely improve the rural household gain access to clean drinking water, quality education and of course open their windows to the digital revolution that we are witnessing.