‘Just Light is not Enough’ is a declaration of the mission for the next generation of rural energy programs in Pakistan.
As LED lighting with Solar PV power becomes more widespread even in remote regions of Pakistan, the next task for rural energy access is to provide power for livelihood and income generating activities. By gaining basic power for tools for business use, rural communities will raise their levels of local employment, productivity and living standards.
- The Just Light is Not Enough is a pilot of a program funded by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and World Bank.
- IET was selected as the Partner Organisation to implement the pilot phase of the work.
- IET surveyed 20 villages in Thatta region of Sindh where prior IET program outreach had already established links and baseline data.
- Energy access in these villages varies from no power and no prospect of grid power, to intermittent power supply through grid and meters.
- The final selection of villages was based on potential for a new power supply to leverage livelihood improvement through enterprise development.
- The system design is for standalone fully self sufficient renewable power ‘minigrid’.
Energy access data gathered indicated that a new solar PV/battery cabled supply to households would provide night time lighting at a lower price than the existing expenditure on candles and kerosene. The challenge is then to achieve social coordination sufficient to secure buy-in and ownership by the village for the long term success of this new infrastructure.
The program aims to prove the concept at 4 villages which are 90% grant funded, leading to a next phase where smaller grant funding is required ultimately leading to an open market scenario where village communities can obtain sufficient credit to purchase and operate their own minigrids with no government intervention.
The solar minigrids deliver most of the customer benefits of a utility-distributed power supply, with the added benefit of a higher reliability than the grid supply in rural regions. Special challenges also come with village based minigrids including system maintenance and bill collection coordinated by the Village Organisation.
The construction work was undertaken in 2016 and has resulted in light and power for the first time known in 3 villages, and the addition of further power to 1 village which had existing unmetered electricity supply. The total number of households benefitting from this program is 277 and estimated population in 2016 of 2,253 people. IET continues to collaborate with the villages to ensure long term sustainability and livelihood outcomes are achieved from the minigrid projects.
16 additional villages are already assessed for energy access and opportunities and many of these are strong candidates for next stage minigrids.
Building on the learnings from the 4 pilot projects a Indus Earth is now reaching out to donors to aid the roll-out and up-scaling of the Just Light is not Enough project.