Rural electrification programme with solar energy in remote region: a case study in an Island

In the programme of total electrification, centralised supply of power generated by conventional methods using exhaustible resources is proving to be uneconomic and, more importantly, unmanageable so far as supply to rural areas, particularly remote places, is concerned. On the other hand, the decentralised approach based on supply of power produced with renewable energy resources available locally is, for various reasons, gradually being recognized as a viable alternative for such remote places. The feasibility of a decentralised solar photovoltaic (SPV) system is examined from a broad-based socio-economic and environmental point of view, as a source of power compared to that from conventional sources in a remotely located island. The study, based on a sample survey, conducted in an island called 'Sagar Dweep' in West Bengal, India, shows that within a short spell of time of four years, there have been noticeable improvements and significant impact on education, trade and commerce, entertainment, health etc. as a result of supply of power from SPV power plants. Productivity level of some agricultural activities as well as women's participation in different economic activities (at night), other than household work, have shown definite signs of betterment. The SPV system is also superior to other conventional systems when considering its environmental effects. Thus, on the whole, there seems to be a strong case for the locally installed SPV system in spite of its current unfavourable position in respect of the direct cost of production.

Chakrabarti, S. and S. Chakrabarti, 2002: Rural electrification programme with solar energy in remote region: a case study in an island, Energy Policy, 30, 33-42.

Part of development planning

Strong link made by authors

Likely link-assessment by LAs


climate disaster


Small network




Requires large investment


Multipliers could be significant

Long term (20 or more years)

Managed resource

Strong link to poverty reduction

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