As the world wakes up to a depleting finite sources of power like coal and the growing opposition to big dams, countries all over the world with water resources and difficult areas to electrify are opting for the community mode of electricity generation and distribution. "Today, a confluence of technological, political, and environmental forces is breathing new life into an old concept: decentralised, small-scale power,' observes the State of the World-2000 report.
As electricity has to be used locally to avoid transmission loss, micro-and mini-projects are the most suitable. Community participation helps in making the projects sustainable. Examples like Nepal, China and Norway reinforce that community management of micro-and mini-electricity projects have solved energy crisis in the most difficult places. In the Indian context the rural electrification programmes of China is relevant as it faced a similar challenge of electrifying vast inaccessible areas.
The Chinese experience
During the 1960s, China realised that to electrify its remote areas (around 48 per cent of its total area) it had to evolve a separate energy policy for these areas. It adopted the now-famous