The recently released Global Status Report on renewable says that grid-connected solar Photovoltaics (PV) has been the fastest growing energy technology in the world with 50 per cent annual growth in cumulative installed capacity in last two years. The majority of the above capacity comes from Germany, Japan, Spain, and the US which have installed small PV systems (a few kilowatts to tens of kilowatts) on their rooftops, feeding the electricity into the grid through two way meters and enjoying the benefits of net metered electricity bills at the end of the month. Of the total reported 25 lakh homes worldwide that use solar home systems today, about 3.6 lakhs are in India, second only to China which has 4 lakh solar home system users. Though this figure looks good the actual situation is very scary.
According to the Ministry of Power, Government of India, about 7.6 crore rural homes still use kerosene for lighting. Lighting the basic amenity is not provided to 56.5 per cent of the 13~8crore rural homes and 12.4 per cent of roughly 5.37 crore urban homes in India which continue to burn biomass, wax candles and kerosene lamps, spending Rs. 2 to 5 per day. Apart from the low levels of illumination provided by these devices, smoke and fire hazards due to accidental pilfering of kerosene and tipping of candles are common. The task of providing electricity to the rural households is a large one. The task is made more challenging by constraints such as the lack of an extensive transmission network throughout the country, the limited generating capacity to serve additional rural markets, and the scarcity of capital for investments in generation, transmission, and distribution. Economic extension of rural electrification is further constrained by the generally small loads and greater dispersion of rural customers, making it difficult to justify the costs of distribution networks....