Koovappady panchayat in Ernakulam district is preparing to using solar energy at least partially as part of efforts to shift from the conventional energy use and to create awareness among people on the use of renewable sources of energy.
In the first phase, the panchayat expects to shift most of its office operations to solar power, said panchayat president Mini Babu on Wednesday.
The first phase of the solar energy shift will see the panchayat invest around ₹4.95 lakh in the project. It is learnt that the local body uses energy worth around ₹11,000 from the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) every two months. The electricity bill can be considerably reduced once the solar energy panels are set up. The initial effort is to establish around 8 kW of power.
The solar power project is based on a grid project through which the panchayat will feed electricity generated through its facility to the KSEB grid, and the local body will be able to utilise an equal amount of energy from the KSEB grid for its operations. The solar power project is being implemented through the Agency for New and Renewable Energy Research and Technology (ANERT).
It is estimated that the project will be able to generate 30 to 32 units a day or more depending on the sunshine hours. The installation of solar panels on panchayat buildings has been completed. Panchayat vice president Baby Thoppilan said efforts would be made to fully shift to solar energy in the future, and that the first steps had already been taken.
The partial shift to solar energy is part of efforts by the panchayat to become carbon-neutral. It is expected that the family health centre at Kodanad would be shifted to solar energy. There is also a plan to make the scenically set panchayat on the banks of the Periyar more attractive through renewable energy efforts. The Vallam-Panankuzhy Road, which is one of the main roads leading to the panchayat will be lined with flowering trees under the ‘Poovum Thanalum’ (flowers and shade) programme.
The Koovappady panchayat programme complements a programme by the Ernakulam district panchayat, which has initiated measures to turn the government seed farm at Aluva into a carbon-neutral facility. District panchayat president Ullas Thomas said there was immense interest among local government bodies, including panchayats, in the district to shift to renewable energy and less polluting sources of power.