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Mini grids can be sustainable alternative: CSE

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The CSE Friday said renewable energy-based mini grids can be a sustainable alternative to grid-centralised energy generation.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said grid centralised energy generation has left 31.43 percent of India without electricity in the past 67 years.

"We need to rethink the grid-centralised model again as it has failed completely. After 67 years of independence, 300 million people in India live without any supply of electricity," CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan said at a workshop on "Sustainable mini-grid for energy access" here.

Bhushan said there is a need to define mini grid in the Electricity Act, 2003 and that national electricity policy should give mandate to formulate policies for discoms to sell and purchase power from mini grids.

He said mini grid will reduce our dependency on fossil fuel.

"Mini grid model will reduce our dependency on fossil fuel, which is causing serious threat to climate change. Besides, there is an increasing gap between demand and supply, which is resulting in ever-increasing imports," Bhushan said.

Hari Natrajan, senior technology advisor of GiZ, however, was sceptical that government may not implement a policy to this end.

"It is just an objective that is mouthed. All our policies are geared to big industries. So, government money may not be forthcoming," he said.

Upendra Bhatt, CEO of cKinetics, said mini grid may not turn out to be the panacea for shortage in electricity supply.

He said the model was not suited for ground realities.

"Bankability and investibility are elements of any model. Mini grid is an extremely high risk model with prospects of modest return in the long run," Bhatt said.

Bhushan maintained CSE will ensure the model is made more economically viable and hoped it will succeed.

"It will be a great step forward as it is a people-oriented, community controlled and decentralised energy generation model," he said.

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