We are a non-profit organisation in India, seeking to promote the economic development and well-being of village communities by providing them access to clean, affordable, and reliable electricity from solar mini-grids.
We are an entity of the Development Alternatives Group, which is a social enterprise dedicated to sustainable development. The group researches, develops and creates commercially viable models for sustainable livelihoods that can be scaled up rapidly, by taking a system-based approach to people, planet and profits.
Tara Urja was conceived in 2014, in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation's SPEED (Smart Power for Environmentally and Economically Sound Development) program to help meet rural India’s need for reliable electricity. The first solar mini-grid plant was set up in January 2014, serving over 60 customers.
Service is key, we believe. The infrastructure to provide electricity to the vast rural landscape has been set up in recent years, but reliability and service is still out of reach. That’s where we are doing things differently. By treating electricity as a service instead of a product, we are getting our customers to see us as partners in their progress.
We are forging a path for other energy service companies (ESCOs) to follow, helping them use our technology, customer service practices and load development programs to positively impact the lives and livelihoods of even more village communities across India.
Since 2014, we have built 20 solar mini-grid plants across the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, serving 1,750 customers and improving the lives of over 5,000 people. The efforts have had a significant impact: average per capita income has improved by USD $18.5, 14 electric water treatment plants now give 2,800 residents clean drinking water, and carbon emissions from diesel generators have been reduced by almost 1000 tons per year. And this is just the beginning.
Until a few years ago, most shops and households in Fakirtoli, Bihar used electricity supplied by diesel generators – noisy, polluting and unreliable. The shopkeepers who couldn’t afford it used kerosene or gas lamps instead. Like 410 million other people across India, they had no access to reliable electricity, due to insufficient power generation and limited grid infrastructure. Not having electricity meant they couldn’t keep their shops open after dusk. It meant they had to compromise on health and comfort. And it meant not being able to give their families the basic conveniences that most take for granted. They, their families and the village were being held back on progress.
That changed once Tara Urja set up a solar energy mini-grid in the village. Now, the entire market runs on a constant supply of clean, reliable electricity. Life has changed for the shopkeepers and their families. “Ever since Tara Urja came in, our market has been transformed,” says Sanjay Gupta. “We can all stay open longer now, and everyone can do more business. I can finally afford to give my family a few comforts like a fan and lights so my children can study better. We are also safer from injuries and fire accidents because of doing away with kerosene lamps.”
The other shopkeepers have similar stories; reliable electricity has changed their lives. Residents have been supported to set up new micro-enterprises – like one young man who now runs a water treatment facility or one woman who has opened the area’s first beauty parlour. Even a school principal has finally been able to use a computer and access digital education for his students. All of this would have been impossible without reliable electricity.
Tara Urja has transformed our market. We can all stay open longer now, and everyone can do more business. I can finally afford to give my family a few comforts.
Sanjay Gupta - Kirana Shop Owner
Tara Urja has 20 sites across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that serves 1,750 customers.