Microgrid can be defined as a small network of electricity users with a local source of supply that is usually attached to a centralised national grid, but is able to function independently. From India’s context, rural microgrid is a small electricity network implemented at a village level with its own generation unit and the electricity generated thus supplied primarily to the village households and in some cases, to some commercial load centres. These microgrids are often not connected to the national grid and have been set up in the villages where there is no grid connection or even if there is a grid, power supply is highly erratic.
Rural microgrid is not a new concept for India, which has been a pioneer in rural micro grids since 1990s through participation from the private entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs took the initiative to light up the villages which were under the curse of darkness since ages. In those days, when solar power was not available or was not an affordable technology, biomass or husk based generation was a technology of choice. With the advent of technology, solar power based microgrid has now become an obvious choice for the developers due to various reasons. These solar plants are modular in nature; capacity can be scaled up easily; easier and faster to install; fuel availability is not an issue and O&M is simpler. Capacity of these solar microgrids vary from less than a KW to as high as 10-12 KW. India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) estimates that India has installed over 2,000 AC microgrids of over 5 kW by 2016 and over 10,000 DC microgrids with the majority sized at less than 1 kW.
A solar microgrid will typically have a set of solar individual modules with capacity of 150–400 W, a set of solar batteries with storage capacity of 75–150 Ah, controllers in some places, inverters for DC to AC conversion for bigger microgrids, and finally, a set of cables carrying electricity to the households and other commercial load points. The households generally get to light 2–3 bulbs and a plug point for charging mobiles. In most of the cases, power from the microgrid is consumed between 6–11 pm. In most of the villages, there is no meter installed to measure the consumption and villagers pay a fixed sum every month, irrespective of their consumption.
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