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Enabling Development in Nagaland: The Case for Energy Access Explorer

Socio-economic development and human well-being are intrinsically linked to shifts in energy access. Of the 169 targets set under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, 125 are linked to energy access. Global electricity access improved from 84% in 2010 to 91% in 2021. Since 2017 near-universal access to electricity has been provided to 2.63 crore households across India. In Nagaland, 1,32,507 of 5,23,870 households have been provided electricity under the Saubhagya Scheme. Schemes have been formulated for household electrification, but we still need initiatives for the electrification of institutions, particularly rural and remote health facilities and schools, to ensure that India achieves its SDGs.

Energy Access Explorer (EAE) in Nagaland

The electrification of institutions in Nagaland by relevant government departments and decision-makers can be supported by WRI India’s Energy Access Explorer (EAE). EAE can improve decision-making processes by visualizing and analyzing data from different departments in a single place to help facilitate integrated planning.

In addition to electricity data, EAE includes spatial data on population density, socio-economic conditions, disaster vulnerability and other environmental factors. Integrating and regularly updating data into the EAE platform can help ensure that decisions are informed by the latest information.

The platform can be used by anyone, including those with limited or no programming skills in geospatial analysis. It empowers users to effectively carry out energy planning by prioritizing areas with unmet and underserved energy demand. So far, EAE has been launched and tailored to meet the specific needs of three geographical areas in India – Jharkhand (2021), Assam (2022) and Nagaland (2023).

Although the current peak energy demand of Nagaland is approximately 180 MW, it is expected to reach 400 MW by 2025. The state has limited generation capacity and relies heavily on central allocation (140 MW) and purchases from the energy market. To meet its growing energy demand, the state can consider utilizing its vast untapped resources including 7920 MW of solar energy, 180 MW of small hydropower and 10 MW of biofuel energy. However, the hilly state is also prone to earthquakes and landslides. Effective energy planning must also account for this. EAE takes the multi-dimensionality of energy access into account which can help prioritize energy interventions.

In 2021, 74% (1456 out of 1960) of the schools and 36.17% (157 out of 434) of the health sub-centers in Nagaland did not have access to electricity. The EAE can serve as a comprehensive solution for energy planners to access essential data and prioritize institutions that should be electrified. By supporting the planning of solar irrigation facilities, identifying small hydropower potential, powering healthcare facilities and schools, and acting as a data governance tool, the EAE allows users to access modern energy services.

Potential Applications of EAE in Nagaland

Solarization of schools: This can significantly impact educational outcomes by reducing dropout rates and improving literacy, especially in remote areas. Schools without electricity (Figure 1 A) can efficiently access electricity by installing decentralized photovoltaic (PV) systems with battery backup. To determine the required size of a solar PV panel system, it is essential to estimate the solar energy potential. EAE provides the users with global horizontal irradiance (GHI) data, which does exactly this for a given area (Figure 1 C). A higher GHI indicates that a smaller PV is needed to generate electricity and vice versa. Additionally, a well-developed road network (Figure 1 B) is crucial for assessing the connectivity to schools and the installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems.

Role of EAE in multi-criteria analyses: In addition to identifying all schools without electricity, one could set a criterion for considering only the unelectrified schools located at a certain distance from the nearest major road. Such multi-criteria analysis could be used to help prioritize the solarization of schools that are more remote. Figure 1 D shows the current and future Energy Access Potential (low, medium and high) for demand and supply of electricity in areas around primary schools that are located between one and 100 kms from the road network and have a GHI of over 1000 kWh/m2.

Figure 1: Energy Access Potential (D) for the primary schools without electricity (A), located between 1km and 100 km along the road network (B), having a GHI of over 1000 kWh/m2(C) as obtained on EAE.

Role of EAE in identifying renewable energy resources besides solar: In addition to solar PV, small hydropower plants (<10 MW) could be used to generate electricity for remote healthcare facilities. Reliable electricity is critical for providing healthcare services, especially in primary healthcare sub-centers that are the first point of contact in rural areas. The EAE allows users to overlay healthcare facilities with irregular electricity supply (Figure 2 A), the small hydropower potential sites (Figure 2 B) and road networks (Figure 2 C) across the state.

Such multi-criteria analyses can help identify areas with the highest energy access potential (Figure 2 D) and aid the electrification of healthcare facilities by tapping into the state’s significant, small hydropower potential.

Figure 2: Potential areas with the highest Energy Access Potential (D) using electricity generated by small hydropower to power health sub-centers without regular electricity (A) using locations of small hydropower potential (B) and road network (C).

Incorporating “vulnerability” into energy planning: Multi-criteria analyses can be conducted while integrating GHI (Figure 3 A), population density (Figure 3 D) and spatial distribution of data on historical seismic activity (Figure 3 B) and landslides (Figure 3 C). When such data is overlaid, it becomes possible to understand the vulnerabilities of a region and promote disaster-resilient energy planning in areas with the highest energy access potential (Figure 3 E).

Figure 3: Multi-criteria analyses results for Energy Access Potential (E) have been obtained after adding GHI (A), vulnerability datasets (B and C) and population density (D).

Incorporating terrain and slope information for solarization: Slope and aspect, especially in hilly states such as Nagaland, significantly affect solar radiation and consequently, the efficiency of solar PV installations. Using aspect data (Figure 4 E), which measures slope orientation in degrees, from 0⁰ to 360⁰ (0⁰ is north-facing and 180⁰ is south-facing), can help ensure more efficient solarization because south-facing slopes (135⁰ to 225⁰) receive the most sunlight. Incorporating slope and aspect data into EAE allows the identification of ideal locations for solar PV installations (Figure 4 F).

Figure 4: Multi-criteria analyses showing areas with highest Energy Access Potential for solar PV installations after overlaying aspect data (E) to the GHI (A), historical vulnerability datasets (B and C) and population density (D).

Data repository for monitoring and promoting inter-departmental collaboration: The EAE serves as a data repository for various departments, streamlining monitoring processes and fostering collaborative efforts towards common objectives. For instance, the EAE hosts data from the Nagaland Health Project (NHP), displaying the locations of health facilities solarized under this initiative (refer to Figure 5). This illustrates the EAE's utility as a comprehensive repository. The NHP, backed by the World Bank, aims to enhance the management and delivery of healthcare services in Nagaland over six years. With a focus on 175 health facilities and 500 villages statewide, the EAE can be leveraged to plan subsequent project phases and monitor ongoing schemes effectively.

Figure 5: Location of health facilities solarized under the Nagaland Health Project.

These are some examples of how EAE can play a pivotal role in supporting, strengthening and prioritizing electrification efforts in Nagaland to help improve educational and health outcomes, and meet energy demand across the state. By allowing users to incorporate a wide range of renewable energy sources, the state can prioritize actions to meet current and future energy demands while reducing the need for fossil fuel-based energy.

Source for all maps:

All views expressed by the authors are personal.

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