From Darkness into Light – Electrifying a Village
ADP is funding a rural electrification project (solar home systems) for a village in the Attock District. The village is not connected to the National Electric Grid and therefore, has no access to electricity. Currently, the villagers use kerosene lamps which are hazardous to long-term health. It is also costly (Rs. 200 per liter of kerosene) and has to be obtained from markets 23 km away. With the solar home systems, we expect increased productivity, better quality of life and access to more technologies (such as mobile phones and computers) for the households. Students will be able to study for longer and household chores and other tasks will not be interrupted due to lack of power. The households will receive assistance from PRES in using the technology and will collectively pay for maintenance of systems. The expected beneficiaries are 250 individuals (44 households) as well as a school and mosque in the village. Agriculture is the main source of income with a few individuals working at nearby towns and cities to support their families.
Pakistan Renewable Energy Society (PRES) is a non-profit, non-governmental and a non-political society established in October 2011 with a purpose of executing Renewable/Alternative Energy projects for the under-privileged communities of rural areas of Pakistan. PRES also seeks to create awareness about Renewable and Alternative Energy Technologies by providing technical trainings, organizing seminars and workshops. PRES sponsors have strong technical knowledge and background of Renewable and Alternative Energy Technologies and have more than 5 years of experience in the field of Renewable Energy Technologies. They have also worked / are working for different Renewable Energy Firms in Pakistan.
ADP and PRES expect the project to lead to significant tangible improvements for Village Dhoke Atta Wali:
- Access to electricity for 44 households and one school (250 total beneficiaries)
- Total savings for the village of Rs. 432,000/year due to reduction in kerosene oil expense
- Increase in working hours and subsequently productivity of the villagers.
- Lower dependence on fuels like kerosene oil and wood; reduction in deforestation.
- Development of a self-sustaining model that could sustain itself beyond a one-time effort.
- Training and capacity building of the villagers (PRES will train the villagers on how to use the systems).
- One villager will be trained by PRES to be a technician and earn monthly salary of Rs. 2,250.
- Total expected life of the project = 25+ years, Payback period= about 4 years.
- Potential to scale up the solar home system to support use of water pumps for access to clean drinking water.
This project meets all the criteria outlined by ADP including critical need, social return, measurability, sustainability and scalability. The village is located in a remote area with no electricity grid. The living standards of the people are poor and there is no concrete road leading to the area. Due to its unique location, the government is also not inclined to try and provide electricity the village. With 44 houses and 1 school in the area, the project will directly impact many people, with labor working longer hours (beyond sunset) and increasing productivity while students will be able to study better. The project will have a positive impact on the environment by introducing renewable energy sources and help provide clean drinking water. The project also aims to train local people to ensure the long-term benefits and impact of the project. PRES has previously implemented a number of similar projects and come highly recommended for their ability to provide a sustainable solution for electricity that is easy to maintain after implementation. PRES is looking to use this project as a replicable model, to foster the development and ownership structure for community solar, which can sustain itself beyond this one village.
Q1. What is an SHS solution?
The Solar Home System (SHS) design caters for placement of solar panels on the rooftop or in open unshaded areas in each house. The panels will charge batteries during daylight hours and the stored energy will be used to provide light to homes and operate lights/fans during day and night. The user will only be required to switch on/off the system, as is done in normal home lighting systems. The system will be user-friendly and designed as a stand-alone system for each household, who will be trained to operate and maintain it. This village’s SHS consists of 44 houses and 1 school
Q2. What are the benefits of solar energy?
Solar Energy is available at the rate of 1000 Watt per square meter in Pakistan. This can be converted to DC electricity with the help of solar photovoltaic cells, which may be used for lighting, operate fans, to pump groundwater for drinking and makes the water hot directly during daytime. In addition this will directly reduce deforestation and also save hard cash spent on fuel.
Q3. How does this project benefit the villagers?
The project is expected to help reduce use of fossil fuels like kerosene oil will result as use of renewable energy technologies for lighting will replace them. This will reduce a burden on the expenses of the villagers and will result in the savings. The saved amount could then be spent for other purposes. It has been evaluated that the villagers have been spending Rs. 100 – 200 for lighting. The variation in the expenses depends upon the locality. The project is designed to be implemented in such a way that the user does not involve sharing any kind of cost due to underprivileged.
Q4. ADP has never funded a Solar Energy project before. What did the team’s evaluation need to focus on to ensure that this is an effective and sustainable solution for the people of the Village Dhoke Atta Wali?
The team’s evaluation focused on the cost of the equipment, the sustainability and maintenance of the equipment, the villagers’ receptiveness to embrace new technology and their relative income/education level to contribute to the post-installation effort. The cost of the said equipment is comparable to various vendors in the market, and the monthly cost to maintain the facility is much less than the kerosene expense that the villagers incur. Having a solar system like SHS, with minimal maintenance effort, will save the hassle for the villagers to obtain kerosene from the closest store that is 23 kilometers away. PRES will work with the villagers to form a village committee of 2-3 people, chosen by the consent of the majority in the village. This committee will be the liaison between PRES and the villagers, and will be responsible for collecting money from the villagers for the maintenance of the SHS (technician salary). During the first year, PRES will check in on the installed SHS every month. After one year, it’ll be 3-4 times a year depending on the need and requirements of the village (e.g. if the systems stop working and they need a PRES team to come to the village). ADP and PRES both believe that this project has the potential to serve as a model for other villages within Pakistan, making the social return for this project infinite to the economy and the lifestyle of the people.
Q5. How supportive is the community of the SHS concept?
The community is aware of the solar energy system and is ready to adopt this new technology instead of using kerosene oil for their electrification needs. This project is expected to be a cheaper and more reliable option for the villagers, given the high cost of kerosene oil and the distance to the nearest purchase point.
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