Home to one of the world’s oldest cultures, Tamil Nadu is the second largest state economy in the country and one of India’s most literate regions. However, a shortage of electricity is a huge problem in this state. Realizing the need for renewable energy, the Indian government set up the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) as early as 1985.

Known for its remarkable programs for people living below the poverty line, the Tamil Nadu government has created the unique Solar Powered Green House Scheme. Each family gets a fully subsidized 300 square foot pucca (concrete as opposed to mud) dwelling. Every house has a living room, bedroom, kitchen, toilet and verandah lighted by solar powered compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). So far, Tata Power Solar (TPS) has lighted up over 2,200 villages with over 25,000 solar home lighting systems and benefitted approximately 38,000 families through this program.

TPS has invested in training and educating the village on usage and maintenance of the solar system, ensuring a source of livelihood simultaneously. There is one TPS technician allocated for every 300 houses and an operational call centre that addresses any issues pertaining to the solar lighting system.

Along the coast of the district of Tirunelveli, TEDA ’s Green Houses dot the little hamlets of fisherfolk and farmers. Today there are more than 2,400 TPS solar installations in the region, touching some 3 mn lives.
People and progress

Along the coast of the district of Tirunelveli, TEDA ’s Green Houses dot the little hamlets of fisherfolk and farmers. Today there are more than 2,400 TPS solar installations in the region, touching some 3 mn lives.People and progress
The fisherman The sleepy little village of Uvari has approx 5,700 people, who make their living from the sea, either fishing or building and repairing boats
The fisherman Every morning, Rejington sets out with his companions at 5 am in boats made of fibre glass, and returns at 10 am with the day’s catch.
The fisherman Rejington and his wife Shobha have four children. Theirs is the is the only house in the neighbourhood with solar powered lights
The fisherman During the regular six-eight hour power cuts, children from neighboring homes come by to Rejington’s brightly lit and painted house to study and do their homework in the evenings.
Vattanvillai Village
The folk of Vattanvallai, a village full of palm trees, have dealt with day-long power cuts for years. But the Solar Powered Green House Scheme is changing things.
The basket weaver Poovammal’s hands move relentlessly, weaving basket after basket of Palmyra (a local variety of palm). Every part of a palm tree is put to use by her and her family
The basket weaver With TPS solar powered lamps in her house, she can work after dark that helps her earn more
The basket weaver Her son, who runs a fast food stall, uses an electric grinder, powered by TPS solar panels, to grind spice mixes in the kitchen now.
Thoothukudi or Tuticorin was the seat of one of India’s oldest dynasties, the Pandyas. As a part of the ongoing Solar Powered Green House Scheme in the district, TPS has provided about 1,531 solar installations. Water is in short supply here, and much of the water meant for the villages is siphoned off to the big copper factories close by (which are also suspected of causing the high rates of tuberculosis in these parts).MappilayooraniElectricity is sporadic in this village of about 3,200 people, with five-eight hour outages every day, two hours at a time. The 70 houses that come under the TPS solar powered Green House Scheme are spared this inconvenience.
Murugalakshmi is a widow who works at a fish drying yard, sorting and processing the poor grade catch which is dried out for use as chicken feed.
She and her six children moved from a thatched hut with only the hearth for light to a Green House with a television, where five lights burn for over five hours on solar power
Illupaiyoorani Village
This village lies in an area with low rainfall. People can grow only one crop of chilli, maize, ragi or cotton a year.
Leelavathi is 50, and like other women in the village, works at a nearby match factory to supplement the salary her husband brings in. They have one daughter, Mariswari.
She will soon move into one of nine Green Houses in the hamlet, leaving behind the ramshackle assembly of tin and wooden poles she and her family have lived in until now.
A fiercely independent woman, Pettchiammal supports herself and her brother’s daughter (whom she has adopted) by working at the match factory for daily wages.
The television, powered by TPS panels, keeps her company as she goes about her chores, often after dark because she has CFL lighting in every room.
Back to top