BY TERESA REHMAN
Vadodara: Eulogising the power of the sun, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon surprised everyone by talking about the ‘special place’ of the sun in the Indian imagination. “The United Nations even recognizes the Indian Sun Temple Konârak as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People of all faiths and all countries have for millennia appreciated the immense value and power of our sun. But we have only just begun to harness the sun’s energy for the good of our planet and its people,” said HE Ban Ki-moon while dedicating the 10 MW Canal top solar power plant on Vadodara branch canal passing through Vadodara city in Gujarat on January 11, 2015. Earlier, HE Ban Ki-moon greeted the enthusiastic audience in Gujarati.
Gujarat became the first state in the country to install a pilot project of 1 MW capacity Canal top solar power project on the Narmada Branch Canal near Sanandand at village Chandrasen, Ta:Kadi, 75 km from Ahmedabad in the year 2012. Apart from generation of electricity, it is claimed that water evaporation loss is also reduced and a small increase in electricity was observed since the water below the panel keep it cooler.
Encouraged by this success, the Government of Gujarat installed a 10 MW solar power plant on Vadodara branch canal. The canal was inaugurated on February 14, 2014 and was commissioned, and began generating electricity on November 23, 2014. The plant was implemented by Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited and the plant was constructed by Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited.
The Secretary-General added, “Looking out at the Canal Top Solar Power Plant, I saw more than glittering panels – I saw the future of India and the future of our world. I saw India’s bright creativity, ingenuity and cutting-edge technology.”
He further pointed out the multiple benefits of this project. HE Ban Ki-moon said, “Solar power protects the environment. It creates development. It helps us conserve land. And it promotes health and prosperity. More solar power means less pollution. And that will lead to cleaner air and healthier lives. I welcome the Government’s recent announcement to dramatically scale up solar power to equal more than 10 percent of total energy mix by 2022.”
With increasing energy consumption, the adverse effects on climate are being witnessed across the world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has noted than an increase in global temperature is proportional to the build-up of long lasting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide. As an alternate source of energy, solar is one of the most viable, since it is cost-effective, the energy source is inexhaustible and its applications can be as varied as transport, thermal, cooking, water treatment and electricity production.
The canal-top solar power plant in Vadodara is an excellent example on harnessing the power of the sun. The power evacuation from the solar plant is done at 66 KV level at the nearby GETCO substations. It is expected to generate 16.2 million units of electricity for the first year from the 10 MW canal top solar power plant. The power generated is being injected into the grid. The solar photocoltaic Crystalline Silicon technology is used for the canal top solar power plant and 33816 solar panels are installed, 295-305 Watt peak (Wp) power.
The 10 MW plant’s average electricity production per day is about 50,000 units. The plant is centrally monitored for instant production, cumulative production. There is a small weather station on the terrace of the master control room which monitors key weather parameters. The cost of production of electricity is about Rs 6.5 per kWh. The panels are expected to give 18 percent efficiency.
The Secretary-General also commended the Indian Government for organizing the first renewable energy investors summit, called RE-Invest, next month in New Delhi. He informed that in order to support this RE-Invest and renewable energy, he is going to send his Special Envoy for Climate Change and SIDS, Michael Bloomberg, who was New York Mayor. “The right approach to energy can drive progress on all three pillars of sustainable development: economic dynamism, social progress and environmental sustainability. To address extreme poverty we have to end energy poverty. And we cannot reduce the threat of climate change without transforming global energy systems” added the UN-Secretary General.
The Secretary-General also spoke about his initiative to jumpstart this transformation. “It is called Sustainable Energy for All. It brings together public and private partners. We are working to dramatically increase energy access. Our vision and target through this Sustainable Energy For All initiative is first of all to provide universal energy access to all seven billion people in the world by 2030, and double the energy efficiency, and the use of renewable energy by 2030 – doubled, in the global energy mix. And I am very happy and encouraged that India is now taking the lead on the Sustainable Energy for all initiative,” he added.
The Secretary-General termed this as an “historic opportunity to transform our societies”. He applauded Prime Minister Modi’s pledge to light every household in India with a solar lightbulb. With such goals in sight, we can hope that solar power would be the new superpower in the future.