Dharnai Goes LIVE Powered by Greenpeace’s First Solar Microgrid

Feature story - July 20, 2014
The miracle wasn’t caused by any divine intervention but by the sheer determination of Greenpeace India and the residents of Dharnai who came together to make the impossible happen.

Dharnai, Bihar — July 20, 2014 will go down in the history of Dharnai revenue village in Bihar as a day of triumph and celebration. After over 30 years of life without power, Dharnai now owns and operates its own electricity production system located right inside the village.

20 July 2014

Greenpeace’s solar-based decentralised renewable energy model has brought Dharnai back in the mainstream of life. Photo credit: Ravi Sahani / Greenpeace


The miracle wasn’t caused by any divine intervention but by the sheer determination of Greenpeace India and the residents of Dharnai who came together to make the impossible happen.

“We had tried everything in the book to get electricity for the last 30 years. But we haven’t seen a single ray of hope. While India was growing by leaps and bounds, we were stuck here with kerosene lamps and expensive diesel generators. But now I can proudly say that Dharnai is a leader in innovation,” said Kamal Kishore Prasad, resident and Village Electricity Committee chairman of Bishunpur Tolla, Dharnai.

The microgrid has been set up with the approval and participation of the people of Dharnai. The 100-kilowatt (kW) microgrid is a comprehensive, first of its kind enterprise that provides 70 kW power for household purposes and 30 kW for 10 solar-powered water-pumping systems of three horsepower each. It also takes care of 60 street lights, energy requirements of two schools, one health centre, one Kisan Training Centre and 50 commercial establishments.

The project has been initiated and funded by Greenpeace India and operated with the help of BASIX, a livelihood promotion institution, and Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED), which is a network of NGOs and think-tank organisations in Bihar that support renewable energy development in the state.

“The microgrid intends to be the answer to the intense policy and vision paralysis that India’s energy sector faces today,” said Naveen Mishra of CEED. “The towns and villages of Bihar have been deprived of energy for decades and we feel this is where the microgrid can be the connect. We urge the Bihar government to follow and replicate this model.”  

With the launch of the microgrid, Dharnai has set the stage for more than 300 million Indian citizens to follow its example and declare their energy-independence from the centralised power grid that has left them in the dark for decades.

 “Even as the government is preoccupied with blaming civil society for stopping energy projects, here is a village that has created its own energy pathway through an alternate model of sustainable energy,” said Samit Aich, Executive Director, Greenpeace India.

The decentralised, expandable and sustainable approach of the microgrid is a critical catalyst to power up growth in rural villages like Dharnai, as well as bridge the deficit in urban areas, according to Greenpeace India. This solution can be integrated in the current government’s renewable energy agenda for energy access to every household by 2019.

“The coal-fired and nuclear-based power plants of the country will not be able to reach the Dharnais of the country. Nor will they be able to address global climate concerns and India’s commitments towards those concerns,” Aich said. “India needs to seriously reconsider its energy strategy and prioritise renewable energy for social and climate justice.” 

Visit: http://dharnailive.org for more details