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  Social Responsibility

Rural Development
Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 9:52 p.m.
Verizon India is electrifying hamlets
  • Providing electricity to Devarakonda Village. Source: Verizon

By Business India Editorial

Verizon India partners with non-profits to address the challenges of health, education and energy in communities around the three cities of Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru besides responding to humanitarian crises due to natural calamities across India.

Ramunigundla Thanda, Kesya Thanda, Jogi Thanda and Mantriya Thanda are typical rural hamlets in Devarakonda Mandal in the district of Nalgonda, Telangana, which predominantly depend upon paddy and cotton farming for their livelihood. They are about 100 km away from Hyderabad and fall on Nagarjunanagar road near the town of Mallepalli. These hamlets together have around 340 homes and the majority of them fall in the low-income category. All these hamlets were grid-connected and used to be supplied with free electricity as a part of the state government’s scheme of free power for the SC and ST population. However, they suffered due to poor quality of power and long hours of load shedding. The people living here experience power outages which typically last around 6-8 hours a day, with this figure going as high as 12 hours during the rainy season. As a result of this, even though they had access to various appliances like TVS, air-coolers, rice cookers, etc, lack of quality power – especially during hot summers and rainy seasons – remained a major hindrance. Since the majority of the households in these hamlets have concrete rooftops, it made it an ideal case for drawing roof-top solar power.

Uninterrupted power

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and Verizon India formed a partnership in 2017 to take solar technology to rural Telangana. IIT Madras, in collaboration with Southern Power Distribution Company of Telangana (TSSPDCL) and Rural Electrification Corporation took up this project to provide uninterrupted power using solar technology to 300 households spread across the four hamlets. Each of the homes were installed with the inverter-less system, which typically consisted of one 125 Wp solar panel, one 1 kWh battery, an inverter-less controller unit and DC loads operating on a 48V DC internal distribution line. The DC loads provided on this line included one DC fan, one DC tubelight, two DC bulbs, one DC mobile charger, one DC socket and one remote controller to operate the fan and tubelight.

All installations were completed by 14 June 2017 and had been commissioned thereafter. The performance and health of all the installed systems are being monitored remotely, with the data from the inverter-less systems being collected via Bluetooth on mobile phones and synced to a central server. The inverter-less solar technology developed at the IIT was transferred to Cygni Energy, an IIT Madras-incubated firm, which also carried out the installations. Verizon India provided financial assistance of Rs75 lakh to fund this project.

Dr Prabhjot Kaur from IIT Madras observed, “The solar DC system is now installed in about 50,000 homes in the country. These largely include the off-grid and near off-grid homes in states of Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam, Rajasthan and others. The system is getting good traction for setting up local grids throughout the nation.”

While Verizon India is working with IIT-M for a project focusing on mentorship at primary school stage, there is no plan yet, to scale the solar DC project as it was done as a self-contained initiative.

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