By Sujit Chakraborty
Agartala, Jun 12 (IANS): India is now generating around 50,000 MW solar power and scientists and experts are developing solar power driven boats, wheelchairs, cold storages and various other utilities, Green Oscar awardee solar scientist Santi Pada Gonchaudhuri said.
Gonchaudhuri stated that Helsinki (Finland) based International Solar Innovation Council (InSIC) has been providing funds for the innovative solar based products, projects and various other utilities in Asian and African countries.
“Researchers in IIT Kharagpur are now developing a solar power driven boat. Within the next two months the innovation process would be completed and then the boat propelled by the solar energy driven engine would be commissioned in Ghoramara island. The project is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the central government,” the solar scientist told IANS.
Ghoramara island is located in the Sunderbans delta of West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district.
He said that such solar power driven boats would also be available soon in Kerala, Odisha and other places and the Solar Committee of the DST, headed by him, would sponsor these boat projects.
Gonchaudhuri, who is a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology and strategic advisor to many solar based projects across India, said that solar energy can help physically challenged people.
“We are trying to develop a solar powered wheelchair through Icfai University in Tripura. I have recently visited the University to check the progress. The project is funded by InSIC where I am the founder chairman.
“Faculty members of Icfai guided by the Vice-Chancellor of Icfai University are doing good work. I am hopeful that the solar energy product (wheelchair) would be ready for use in the next six months,” the scientist said.
He recently visited Don Bosco school in a remote tribal village of Tripura to set up a solar pumping system combined with rain water harvesting.
“This is a new concept to conserve groundwater. I always get pleasure in working in tribal areas that are deprived for many many years,” he added.
Gonchaudhuri, who was conferred the Ashden Awards for sustainable energy, globally known as the “Green Oscars” in 2003, said that the central government funded solar energy driven cold storages are being set up in Gujarat, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
He said that India is now generating around 50,000 MW solar power with Karnataka leading the country and producing 5,000 MW.
A few other states including Gujarat and Rajasthan are also generating reasonable amounts of solar power.
“Once West Bengal was the pioneer in generating huge quantities of solar power but now Karnataka is leading the country in this renewable energy sector,” he pointed out.
Gonchaudhuri, who guided many solar projects in the northeastern states, said that different states of the region are now generating around 300 MW solar power.
“Efforts are on to set up a two MW capacity solar power plant at ONGC’s Palatana (in southern Tripura) power project complex,” he said.
The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in 2013-14 had set up its first commercial gas based 726 MW capacity power plant at Palatana, 64 km south of Tripura capital Agartala.
To promote solar energy in the residential sector, the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been implementing the Rooftop Solar Programme. Under this programme 4,000 MW rooftop solar capacity additions are targeted in the residential sector through central financial assistance.
Northeast India’s biggest solar power project, with a generation capacity of 70 MW, was inaugurated by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at Amguri in Sivasagar district on May 31.
The Rs 300-crore Amguri solar park project was executed by Jackson Power Private Ltd, a solar power developer, with the government-owned Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd (APGCL) acting as solar power park developer.
Inaugurating the plant, the Chief Minister said that four more solar power projects with 25 MW generation capacity each would be commissioned soon in different parts of the state.
Noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasised to generate more energy from solar and renewable sources, Sarma announced that 1,000 MW solar power would be generated within three years in Assam.