May 11, 2018
“Housing for All” by 2022 through Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) was initiated in April 2016, restructuring an earlier scheme - Indira Awas Yojana that started in 1996. The scheme provides immense opportunities to incorporate low carbon technologies at the household level and here, I explore such options and provide some hints at possible implications to the already improving centralized grid performance in India. PMAY-G aims to convert 1 Crore (10 million) Kutcha (thatched) and dilapidated households into Pucca houses with basic amenities by 2019. With a minimum size of the house at 250 sq ft along with a hygienic cooking space, an estimated total cost is pegged at Rs 2.20 lakh. The Government’s assistance varies between Rs 70,000 to Rs 1.20 lakh in plain areas and from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1.30 lakh in hilly region states, difficult areas and Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts for selected tribal and backward districts. While provisioning for housing, the scheme can ensure it provides the comprehensive package of dwelling and clean energy. A rural household can become a producer as well as a consumer, in other words a ‘Prosumer’ of electricity. A house requires energy for lights and running domestic electrical appliances. In the rural areas, the average electricity consumption is about 400 units per family per year. Other sources of energy are from biomass, primarily for cooking and bathing. Nearly 4,000 kg of biomass is consumed annually for cooking. In order to reduce biomass consumption and requirement of the grid for electricity, LPG for cooking, geysers are a set of options, but they use conventional fuels. These energy requirements can be made more energy efficient and also be complemented or replaced with cleaner energy sources. Given solar panels are getting affordable, a house with 250 sq ft rooftop can easily generate 1500 units of electricity annually by installing 1.5kW solar panels. The house can use the required 630 units and remaining 870 units could be sold to the grid. Mandating a solar roof and integrated cookstove systems can make the houses self sufficient for electricity needs and reduce biomass use significantly. The dwellings can also become income generating units. Estimates suggest that in addition to reduced consumption of energy to a third, (10.6 Million TOE) and GHG emissions also gets reduced by over one-fourth of the BAU (by 56 million tCO2) annually. Under normal circumstances 10 million PMAY households would have consumed about 15.4 MTOE to meet their energy requirement for electricity, cooking and heating needs. It would have generated about 70 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. In an alternate scenario, installing solar panels of cumulative capacity of of 15 GW at an estimated cost Rs 15,000 Crore (2.5 billion USD), generates about 15 Billion Units of electricity (6.3 Billion Units for household use and 8.7 billion units for selling), earning an income of Rs 348 Crore annually at Rs 4 per kWh. However, there are policy changes that are required or to be implemented to generate electricity by households and sell it to Grids. A policy is required on control of Gram Panchayats on household electricity generation and profit sharing mechanisms apart from using a portion of sales proceeds to local development. It is also well known that stove stacking is prevalent in rural Indian households, where a typical household may use several cooking devices (LPG, mud-stove). In North India, LPG use is overestimated, given the low LPG distribution networks, and affordability among low income groups (a cylinder costs Rs 900 which can run for a month). LPG for cooking alone can cost a family Rs 10,800 annually, which may mean that low income groups may not be able to use this option effectively. On the other hand, a well-constructed biomass plant can be used to reduce the reliance on LPG, utilize locally available resources and reduce the indoor air pollution. Such an effort can help reduce 100 million tons of oil or 200 million tons of biomass for cooking purposes. However, there needs to be an appropriate strategy prior to rolling out of such programs, as many cook stove and biogas projects have previously failed to produce any significant impact. The initiative can shift the narrative from village electrification to household electrification and cleaner cooking systems for the households. Many business models will emerge giving rise to innovation in technology, business, financing, which will encourage many start-up enterprises, and generate employment in rural areas. Dr. S N Srinivas, CEO, CLEAN
“Housing for All” by 2022 through Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) was initiated in April 2016, restructuring an earlier scheme - Indira Awas Yojana that started in 1996.