India's first fully solar powered village is helping residents to save time and money

Workers clean panels at a solar park in Modhera.
Workers clean panels at a solar park in Modhera.   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Sunil Kataria
By Euronews  with Reuters

Kesa Bhai Prajapati beams with a smile as he moulds blocks of clay into jugs and vases on a potter's wheel.

These days, Prajapati, 68, from the village of Modhera in western India's Gujarat state, has doubled the amount of earthenware he makes compared to a few months ago. Then, he had to turn the wheel manually as he could not afford high electricity bills that cost up to 1,500 Indian rupees (around €18) a month.

Now, however, his machine moves on solar power. Last month, Prajapati's village of around 6,500 residents - consisting mainly of potters, tailors, farmers and shoemakers - was declared India's first village to run entirely on solar energy all the time.

"Electricity has helped us to save time and produce more products," Prajapati said.

India aims to produce half of its energy with renewables

India, the world's third-largest carbon dioxide emitter, aims to meet half of its energy demands from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2030. It is a boost over its previous target of 40 per cent, which the government said it achieved in December 2021.

The project in Modhera was financed by the federal and provincial government costing nearly €10 million. It involved setting up over 1,300 rooftop panels on residential and government buildings that were connected to a power plant.

REUTERS/Sunil Kataria
Solar panels are installed on the rooftops of residential houses in Modhera, India's first round-the-clock solar-powered village.REUTERS/Sunil Kataria

The government buys excess energy produced here from residents if they do not use all of the capacity allotted to the households.

With this money, Praveen Bhai, 43, a tailor, plans to buy a gas connection and stove, since many houses in the village cook food in wood-fired stoves that leave a smoky haze.

"I had to teach the kids under the street lamp. Now they will be able to study inside the house."

India's first solar-powered village

Modhera, also known for its ancient Sun Temple dedicated to the sun god, is situated in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state Gujarat, which is holding elections later this year.

"For a self-reliant India of the 21st century, we have to increase such efforts related to our energy needs," Modi said earlier this month.

REUTERS/Sunil Kataria
Reena Ben works on a solar-powered sewing machine to stitch clothes inside her one-room house in Modhera.REUTERS/Sunil Kataria

For Reena Ben, 36, a housewife, who also works as a tailor part time, solar power has hugely aided her work.

"When we got access to solar power, I bought an electric motor worth 2,000 rupees (€24) to attach to the sewing machine. Now I am able to sew one or two more clothes daily."