We cannot achieve significant poverty reduction without stimulating electricity consumption, which fuels income-generating activities in the modern economy. In India, about 237 million people have little or no access to reliable electricity — more than 90% of them live in rural areas. This severely constrains economic opportunities. Addressing this chronic problem requires going beyond simply expanding the government grid.
Mini-grids have emerged as a viable solution to complement and integrate with the national grid, and can support the government in achieving its ‘Power for All’ vision. The Rockefeller Foundation’s Smart Power for Rural Development (SPRD) initiative is the first to pursue the creation of a mini-grid sector that is robust enough to fuel commercial enterprises and drive economic development beyond just one village. Smart Power India (SPI), which leads the SPRD initiative in India, has proven that mini-grids can be swiftly deployed to deliver reliable power, and has likewise demonstrated that mini-grids can spur economic activity needed to help people lift themselves out of poverty.
This issue of Smart Power Connect, published after the hundredth village was connected to Smart Power, explores the efforts, success stories, and challenges faced in SPI’s mini-grid journey to date. With insights from government agencies, policy experts, energy service companies, investors and mini-grid customers themselves, this publication provides a glimpse into the potential of the mini-grids to transform the energy sector – and how rural communities are embracing and utilizing clean, reliable and adequate power to improve their lives.