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DAIS Alumnus Yashraj Khaitan lights up rural India

“Energy is a quintessential requirement to address development. It is a huge challenge to bring affordable energy to India as well as to reduce the energy lost in India,” says Yashraj Khaitan, DAIS alumnus who has done us proud. It is rightly stated that if you bring in a pressing problem; add an entrepreneur with an innovative idea - all of them together shall make a path-breaking achievement. That is exactly what Yashraj Khaitan and his company ‘Gram Power’ are doing in India. They are changing the face of rural electrification and making mammoth efforts at ensuring one of the key challenges of supplying electricity: power thefts.

Yashraj Khaitan, Founder of Gram Power and also an alumnus from University of Berkley along with his team have successfully installed solar micro grids in isolated rural districts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to provide a sustainable source of power. These areas have been enveloped in darkness for the longest time. Yashraj and his ‘Smart meters’ have lit up the lives of the villagers. A school has electricity and a father is proud his daughter can now study at night. However, it was no easy task to sell the idea to untrusting village-folk and gain their support.

Gram Power operates by building 5-10 kilowatt micro- grids and provides households with ‘smart meters’ that allow them to regulate their power consumption. Therefore, the chances of a power theft are minimized. The villagers have the offer of flexibility to recharge their power, much in the same way as they recharge their phones. Khanpuria is one of the villages near Kota that has benefited from Gram Power and now the village is no longer reeling under darkness. Providing them an off-grid solar power system using these smart meters, Gram Power is truly changing benefitting bounties to rural electrification in India. It is a commendable feat that 30 micro grids have been installed across India.

Yashraj has devised his innovative venture of Gram Power by commissioning one entrepreneur in each village. The entrepreneur recharges the smart meters for the village homes. The villagers have adopted this practice with ease and use electricity in a thrifty compliance. Yashraj has his base in Jaipur and it is from here that he supervises all power grids and smart meters through a web network. The working of all the meteres are looked at regularly with a hawk’s eye precision. A tampered or dysfunctional meter throws a red signal alert to the head office as well as the entrepreneur in charge of the area. An immediate power cut is ordered with this system alert and they resume only after the issue has been dealt with. Yashraj feels that on a regular scenario, energy theft is a problem that is very difficult to be dealt with. His innovation brings a ray of hope. He found energy to be the core area lacking in our country and that was one area he wanted to work towards. It was the harsh reality of India’s villages that made Yashraj decided to come back to India after Berkeley.

He states, “I think the more we understand and more we innovate we will be able to scale up the technology. In next 10- 15 years we would want to have our smart grid technology touch every Indians life.”