Existing solutions for microgrids in India reside on the premise that AC power will be supplied. Vayam is promoting DC. The advantages are:

  • Lower cost per household compared to Individual Solar Home System or AC microgrid
  • Higher efficiency of generation & distribution
  • Does not require highly skilled manpower for installation, operation and service
  • Highly reliable due to absence of inverter and centralized storage
  • Less recurring investment for entrepreneur as he will not invest in viz inverters / battery

Furthermore, in this model the Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE) is a system owner. He is not at the mercy of users since he has real assets in the form of solar panels which have a long life and can be used for power and water generation. He has the flexibility to increase the panels for higher revenues where there is a local business case.

Individual users invest in storage in a modular way. They "feel" the service and continue to invest and grow the VLE's market sustainably as they derive value. This model thus uniquely allows market forces to play into the rural energy economy without authoritatively directing energy generation and consumption. It is self-insulated against the sudden onset of grid power and the choice of (small) hamlets ensures grid-power will not be available to the users simply for anticipated political gains. By setting up 7-10kW microgrids, Vayam is working to prove bankability and scalability in hamlets of 20-70 households, which are invisible to the Government.

A transformational approach, it demonstrates for the first time in India that the investment involved can be distributed between a VLE and the users and both parties are willing to pay for the services. While the VLE invests in DC generation and distribution of power, the users invest in storage and their loads, which include lighting, fans, TV and light commercial loads. A solar pump is an anchor load operated by the VLE. Since the storage component is distributed, there is high buy-in from the users and lower risk for the VLE. The capital cost for the VLE is also reduced. The model is modular, profitable and scalable with higher energy usage and community adoption.

The uniqueness of this solution comes from the technological shift to DC power. DC allows transmission with low losses at relatively low voltages over a 2 km radius. Moreover DC cannot be misused for heating and motor-related activity unless the user invests in an inverter. And as the storage is distributed, the VLE can bring in a diesel genset for supplementing generation in lean-solar periods.

A solar pump as an anchor load is another unique value-add as it provides water to marginal and small farmers on a pay-by-use, shared services model. The VLE services the supply end and collects fixed amounts from the small farmers for providing irrigation water, replacing their spends on hiring diesel gensets. Further, with appropriate storage and distribution the VLE will supply domestic water to households for improving the health, hygiene and sanitation conditions of the community, again on a fixed monthly payment basis.

Encompassing water, which the VLE may also use to breed fishes or ducks and set an example to increase revenue per acre


The common challenges in setting up microgrids ( conventionally AC power based ) are:

  • Large initial investment; prohibitive for village entrepreneurs
  • Risk perception around payment collection over a sustained periods
  • Lack of true community ownership due to corporate/Govt sponsorship

Vayam addresses these challenges by:

Reducing initial investment by

  • Shifting from AC to DC technology
  • Moving storage from central to households

Securing the revenue stream by providing power for productive use

  • Irrigation pump directly increases agricultural output
  • Domestic water causes users to see immediate benefit and stickiness

Allowing user control over timing, load, applications and thus being more attractive for householders and commercial users viz shops, weavers, tailors, artisans, dairies etc, who would earn more as a consequence of modular / customized energy access

Envisaging a smaller community size of 20-70 households for homogeneity of users, which helps overcome fundamental economic, social and technical barriers to off-grid electricity access

Encompassing water, which the VLE may also use to breed fishes or ducks and set an example to increase revenue per acre

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