The tiny Indian village of Dharnai lived in darkness for 30 years — up until last year. Without electricity, it was difficult for the village’s 2,400 residents to complete even the simplest of evening tasks, such as cooking dinner, studying, and getting from one place to the next. Many felt unsafe even walking next door because of the total darkness that enveloped the village come sundown.
In the past, the tiny village in Bihar had relied on generators, powered on cow dung to meet past electricity requirements. These methods, however, cause a great deal of air pollution and are detrimental to the environment and those who inhale the hazardous byproducts.
Dharnai needed a clean, efficient and cost-effective strategy to provide electricity and meet the basic needs of the villagers. Last July, Greenpeace India, a non-profit organization, initiated an 100-kilowatt solar powered grid, capable of providing electricity to meet the needs of all 2,400 Dharnai residents.
Since the solar panels have been installed, the people of Dharnai are now reaping the benefits of solar energy. The villagers now have electricity nearly 24 hours a day, and this solar energy produces zero pollution and causes no harm to the environment. The uses of solar energy in the village are numerous, enabling greater educational opportunities, longer business hours and increased commerce, and for people to travel at night without fear of harm.
This successful India Greenpeace initiative is serving as a potentially game changing model for other rural areas without electricity. Asides from its energy efficiency, solar energy is becoming the more affordable option, too. Since 1977, the cost of solar panels has decreased 100 fold. Since 2008, solar panel costs have reduced by 50%. Currently, Greenpeace India is hoping to extend its initiative to other rural villages in need, and aims to one day power all of India via solar energy.
With its abundance of sunlight, the country of India is an ideal candidate for the uses of solar energy. But what about in the United States? With solar energy use rising at approximately 20% a year over the past 15 years, more and more American families are opting for home solar energy systems. In fact, the solar electric capacity added in 2014 is projected to generate clean, sustainable energy to 1.5 million homes. The uses of solar energy range from powering homes to heating water. Regardless of location, it is an initiative that is changing the way we look at generating energy.
Will America ever adopt Greenpeace India’s initiatives and reap the economic and ecological solar incentives? Only time will tell, but the future looks bright.