18 December 2012
For most of us, electricity is a modern convenience we take for granted. This fundamental technology plays an important role in everything we do. It’s hard to imagine life without a television, computer, or even a simple lamp. Globally, many places struggle for a sustainable electrical power. Countries, states, and even small villages face severe cases of faltering power ("New Solar Program”). But, for four hundred villagers in the isolated town of Meerwada, India, trustworthy electrical power was a dream that recently became a reality. ("Solar Power Alters”). Residents lives have changed immensely, all because of one idealistic solution; solar energy. Although only a village of four hundred people, Meerwada proves to India and the rest of the world that solar power is truly the new, sustainable source of energy ("Solar Power and Renewable Energy”). Solar energy is a steady source that is clean, renewable and can dramatically transform lives and unlock life changing benefits.
Before solar energy in Meerwada, the village hewed to the sun’s schedule. It was only natural for daily chores to be completed before sunset. The only exception of light in the dark would be weak powered kerosene lamps ("SunEdison Brings Solar Power”). Adults made the choice of whether to provide these lamps to themselves or to their children, who must study for school. Whoever got the kerosene lamp for the night would start to cough within minutes as the toxic fumes entered their lungs. Kerosene fumes can cause all kinds of illnesses ("Solar Power and Renewable”). In Meerwada, a total of seven homes had burned down due to the leaking lights and tables catching on fire while lighting the lamps in the dark after a refill of kerosene. Most villagers reported not even having the desire to own kerosene lamps, but like Babitha, a mother of four said, “There is no other option for light at night. Thieves have a cat eye and always pick dark houses, so they can steal anything without being seen.” Every night and day was a true struggle for this off-grid community ("Solar Power Alters Life”).
In the year 2012 however, the complete absence of power no longer became just a problem for this small village. India struggled with a crippling infrastructure setback as major blackouts affected nearly 670 million people and left over half the nation’s population in the dark without electricity (Bhomick, Ninjana. "India Looks to Power”). The collapse of three of the five governments operated electrical grid systems in two consecutive days resulted in the world’s two worst blackouts in human history. First to fail, was India’s northern grid; which also collapsed the day before leaving 350 million people in the dark for 14 hours ("New Solar Program”). This was quickly followed by the eastern grid. These two blackouts raised serious concerns about India’s infrastructure and government to meet the nation’s need for power. Green peace stated that the blackout was “an eye opener that the present energy infrastructure in India needs to be diversitised, both at the generation and the distribution level.” (Bhomick, Ninjana. "India Looks to Power”)
Experts all agree that India must change its primary energy source and find a sustainable, clean, and trustworthy power (“Off Grid Power”). A huge component of the issue is that India relies mainly on coal. This is not only a problem that has decreased India’s productivity, but also countries like Asia, the United States, Africa, and Japan. High energy prices and high and high subsidies have combined into a detrimental mixture for India (“Stl Today”). The second most populated nation is suffering from the power scarcity and its most convenient is to draw from the cheapest energy source possible; coal. But continuing a constant reliance on coal will only dig India and the rest of the world into a deeper hole. Solar energy is not only less expensive than...