Indian Parliament to Go Green with Solar Panels and Biomass Plant

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The Indian Parliament building, Sansad Bhavan, will soon be installed with solar PV systems, solar heaters and a biomass plant in an attempt to promote renewable energy technologies.

On the behalf of the Parliament, the Punjab Energy Development Agency has invited bids for installing 80 kW solar PV system. The power system would not only provide battery back up for the Parliament building but more than 50 percent of the generated power would be fed to the grid.

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Some of the major companies submitting bids for this project are Reliance Industries’ Solar Energy Group, Wipro Ecoenergy and construction giant Punj Lloyd. This is a novel initiative by the Indian government which is trying to initiate a massive country-wide solar energy revolution which could eventually result in ballooning of the total installed capacity to 20,000 MW in the next 12 years. Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution!

While the system might power the Parliament in a real way (battery back up would kick in only in times of power cut, which is a rarity for the Parliament House), installing such a system would have far reaching impacts.

One, it would promote the use of solar PV systems which are still less popular than the household solar thermal systems used as water heaters. Solar PV systems are costlier than solar thermal systems and the state or the central governments do not provide ample subsidies to the domestic consumer for installing solar PV systems. Installing a PV system at the Parliament House could initiate a series of pro-solar PV policy initiatives targeted specifically at the household or commercial consumers.

The former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam took a similar initiative by installing solar panel at the roof of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (The Presidential Palace). His dream was to power the Rashtrapati Bhavan entirely with the solar energy but his plans couldn’t see the day of light due to bureaucratic hurdles. However, the Presidential Palace is now slowly moving to a greener future. Solar panels are being installed at various buildings within the Palace and 100 solar-powered streetlights have also been installed. Solar thermal power systems have been installed.

Secondly, and the more crucial aspect, the system would serve as a demonstration of the feed-in tariff mechanism which the government eventually wants to incorporate in the 20,000 MW solar PV capacity. The feed-in system is quite complex and remains mostly untested in India. Power evacuation from independent sources can be tricky due to the constraints of maintaining a definite frequency of supply.

Some distribution companies are offering domestic consumers with subsidies for installing solar panels on rooftops. However, this scheme has so far been unsuccessful as it has not been marketed well. People would be attracted towards it only if they see some kind of monetary profit. And that profit will come through feed-in tariff scheme.

Several technical and financial-related problems regarding feed-in tariff remain unsolved. Should the power generated be fed directly into the grid or should it be pooled locally and then fed to the grid to meet the required parameters of power transmission? What should the consumers be paid for: the total power generated from the solar panels or the amount of power fed to grid? This project could help answer several such questions.

A solar thermal system would also be set up in the Parliament House with a capacity of 2000 liters. While it is mandatory for all new government buildings to install solar thermal system, this initiative is again a voluntary step aimed at promoting green energy. A half tonne capacity biomass plant would also be installed which would utilize the food waste to generate energy through the process of decomposition.

While this project is a very modest approach towards reducing its carbon footprint but is a very significant one for the promotion and technology demonstration of new schemes is concerned.

Hat tip: Business Standard

Photo credit: Bill Strong (Wikimedia Commons)

The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.

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Mridul Chadha

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

Mridul Chadha has 425 posts and counting. See all posts by Mridul Chadha