Gadvi Kailashben, a 42-year-old widow, lives in Modhera, home to the centuries-old Sun Temple and now India’s first solar-powered village.
She earns a meager income from farming which she uses to support her family. The government installed solar panels on her house, which relieved her of much-needed household expenses.
“Previously, when the solar power was not there, I had to pay a huge sum for the electricity bill – almost Rs 2,000. However, with the installation of the solar, my electricity bill is now at zero. Everything from the fridge to the washing machine is now solar powered in my house. I don’t even pay a one rupee electricity bill now,” Ms Kailashben said.
“The the extra money is now saved in my account. I use this money for daily household expenses and for my children’s education,” she added.
Renewable energies as a source of income
Converting to a clean and renewable energy source not only allows villagers to run more household appliances to make life comfortable, without worrying about the electricity bill. It also becomes a source of income for them.
Ashaben Mahendrabhai, 38, lives with her husband and two children. “We work in our farm and used to pay a huge electricity bill for agriculture. Since the solar installation in our village, we are now saving a lot of electricity. Previously, our electricity bill was around Rs 2,000 Now it’s less,” she said.
With the electricity bill down, Ashaben not only saves the money she used to spend on electricity, but the excess electricity produced is sold back to the grid and she receives money in return.
“When the project team first came to us with the idea of solar power, we didn’t understand the concept, so we refused to install it. We were not literate to understand what solar energy was and had little knowledge about it. But little by little, the team made us understand the concept and the advantages of solar, how we will save electricity and moneythen we got into it,” she said.
Local farmers Pingalsinh Karsanbhai Gadhvi and Surajben Gadhvi, who are married, had solar roofs installed on their house six months ago.
Pingalsinh Karsanbhai believes that this project has not only enabled them to avoid paying their electricity bills, but that the savings made will allow them to stay in good standing in old age.
“Previously, we were getting an electricity bill of Rs 3,000 and after solar it is zero now. Now we are saving those Rs 3,000 every month,” he said.
“These solar panels have benefited the whole village. All institutions such as schools, public institutions, all have benefited from solar in the village. Personally, I save 3,000 rupees. Now we don’t need extra energy. The whole house runs on solar energy.
He exclaimed that “this savings is like a pension for our old age. We are really happy about it.
His wife Surajben was all smiles and eager to recommend him to other villages.
“If this solar is installed all over the country, it would be really beneficial. It is as if the Sun God is supplying us with energy through his light. This advantage that our village of Modhera has obtained, should reach the whole country,” she says.
Interacting with Modhera villagers during his visit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres praised the efforts of the government and residents.
“Here where the Temple of the Sun was built 1000 years ago, a new Temple of the Sun. It is based on solar energy. And the fact that solar energy is transforming the life of the inhabitants of this village, making it healthier, giving them more prosperity, but at the same time helping to save our planet from climate change which continues to spiral out of control.
Inspiration from the Sun God
Home to the iconic Sun Temple of Gujarat, the village of Modhera lies about 97 km from the city of Ahmedabad in the Mehsana district of Gujarat.
With the vision of powering the Temple of the Sun and the entire village through Sun God (solar energy), this project is the first of its kind, where rural residents are expected to be self-sufficient through green energy.
“The idea behind this project is that since the Modhera Temple is the Temple of the Sun God, therefore all energy for this city and community should come from solar energysaid Mamta Verma, Principal Secretary, Energy and Petrochemicals in the Government of Gujarat.
The Temple of the Sun now offers a fully solar-powered 3D light show, its premises are solar-powered, and the parking lot also has charging stations for electric vehicles.
Renewable energy storage
Armed with a wide array of solar panels on the roofs of houses, on public schools, bus stops, utility buildings, parking lots and even the premises of the Temple of the Sun, Modhera benefits from the six megawatt power plant installed in the nearby village of Sujjanpura. .
With the village’s consumption of only one to two megawatts, the the excess is added to the transmission network.
“This entire project has three major components. One is our 6 megawatt ground project. The second is the 15 megawatt battery storage system and the third is the one kilowatt roofs installed on 1,300 houses,” explained Rajendra Mistry, Project Manager of Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL).
“Of the 1,000 roofs we have provided in the village, the electricity that comes out of them is first consumed by the inhabitants of the village, and the excess electricity is then transmitted to the grid.”
Funded by the Government of India and the Government of Gujarat, the estimated cost of the entire project is $9.7 million. What sets it apart is that Modhera is also the first village to become a net producer of renewable energy.
“It is the first village in India where even during the night, the energy consumed by the villagers comes from the solar component. This is the specialty of this project,” said Vikalp Bhardwaj, Managing Director of Gujarat Power Corporation Limited.
Vision for the future
This demonstration project should provide learning to solve bottlenecks related to renewable energy. If the project proves to be economically viable, there are plans to replicate it in other rural areas of Gujarat.
Mr. Bhardwaj said, “This type of project acts as a demonstration project for other villages and towns in India. And similarly, other villages and towns can adopt this model to become autonomous, self-sufficient in energy needs.
Modhera resident Ashaben Mahendrabhai summed up the benefits.
“I would also encourage other villages to use solar power because it is beneficial in everything from saving money to saving electricity,” she said.
POWERED BY THE SUN
- More than 1,300 homes have 1KW rooftop solar systems on residential buildings.
- 316 KW rooftop solar PV systems on various government buildings in Modhera, Samlanpura and Sujjanpura villages.
- 6 MW Ground-mounted Solar PV Plant Connected to the Grid at Sujjanpura
- 15 MWh, 6 MW, Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) at Sujjanpura.
- Modhera only uses 1Mw, the rest being added to the network.
- Installation of Smart Energy Meters (more than 1700) at electrical consumer level.
- The fully solar-powered Sun Temple puts on a 3D projection light show that is fully powered by renewable energy.
- Smart sensor-based streetlights near the Temple of the Sun.
- 50 KW solar parking infrastructure with 150 kWh battery storage with electric charging stations at Modhera Sun Temple.