Steam energy is coming back very fast as blessing for distributed generation. There is bright scope of establishing 10 million tiny thermal power plants in India. Capacity of most of such tiny power plants will be from 5 HP to 20 HP and rarely up to 50HP. Tiny thermal power plant is the simplest plant consisting of steam engine, small boiler and alternator(if electricity is essential). This has vast opportunities for small generation capacities in villages. Such tiny power plants will have the following eye catching inherent advantages:-
(1) To construct giant power plant takes 3 to 4 years, while tiny power plants can be installed in 3 to 4 days.
(2)Tiny thermal power plants will be very cheap. Almost at 20 % cost per KW basis of giant power plants. So with same investment, about 5 times capacity can be built.
(3) In most of the cases, direct mechanical power will be more convenient, more efficient and cheaper i.e. steam engine will directly drive water pump or oil expeller or rice huller or sugarcane crusher etc and generation of electricity will not be required. So investment cost of generators and motors will be saved.
(4) Tiny power plant will use steam engine which is simple technology. The technology of steam engine is not a new technology. We should remember that entire British empire was built and expanded in the world by using steam engines. They used steam engines in boats and steamers, in vehicles and railways, in war equipments, in factories, in textile mills and so on. Steam engine is so much simple that even in villages, it can be produced on lathe.
(5)Tiny power plants can be operated on biomass, agricultural waste, crop residue, forestry waste, wood etc. So it will be environment friendly. It will reduce pollution. In India, about 20000 MW power can be produced from 280 million tonnes of biomass through tiny power plants and steam engines. But giant thermal power plants are fuel specific using only particular type of coal. So Meghalaya coal can not be used in a plant which is designed for Zharkhand coal. So small steam engines will be blessing to small farmers.
(6) Once steam power is available in every village and every farm, all industries related to agriculture will be fully decentralized up to family scale and village scale level.i.e.cotton ginning, cotton spinning and cloth weaving will be decentralized into villages, oil milling, rice hulling, jaggery making will be fully decentralized into farms and villages. It will greatly contribute for rural development, income and employment generation in villages will increase prosperity in villages and homogeneous development of the country.
(7)The biggest advantage is that people can enjoy freedom from the tyranny of electricity companies.
(8)Tiny power plants will greatly contribute for water lifting problem. Entire rural India is facing heavy shortage of electric power in agriculture sector and as electricity is never available in time, farmers are losing their crops. This can be avoided and problem can be solved by Tiny power plants and steam engines.
(9) Rural electrification is unsolved problem since last 60 years. Steam power can solve this problem easily with minimum expense. 80 million poor homes have no electricity in villages of India. For tiny thermal power plant, no transmission lines, no distribution lines, no losses. Simply by running it for a few hours, all people can enjoy electricity by charging the batteries which will never betray. Thus entire India can be electrified only in 3 years by using tiny power plants and steam engines.
(10)Tiny power plants in villages will run most of the agro based industries in villages and hence it will greatly save transport expenses of agricultural produces from villages to cities.
(11) Small boilers of tiny power plants will be fabricated in villages. It will further reduce the cost of tiny power plant. And it will also create jobs and prosperity in villages
(12)Tiny power plants and steam engines will greatly reduce the requirement of transmission lines and distribution lines. This will be extra savings.
(13)Tiny power plants and steam engines will greatly encourage cogeneration with CHP application such as oil milling, sugarcane crushing, rice milling etc. This will save a lot of energy.
Thus we can bring real revolution in rural India by establishing 10 million steam engine based tiny thermal power plants.