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Pioneer in Harnessing Renewable Energy
||By A Special Correspondent|
Facilitating Remote Area Development
There is wide gap between the demand and supply of power in India. In Addition, a higher dependence on fossil fuels has resulted in considerable environmental and resource degradation, besides increasing the risk of price fluctuation and currency exposure. Taking account of these factors and recognizing renewable energy (RE) sources as the best alternative to conventional fuels, the Government of India set up the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES). The task of MNES is to facilitate the growth of grid and off-grid based power through specific programme in order to provide clean power in India.
Renewable Power Capacity in India
India’s total installed power generating capacity has gone up from a mere 1,300 Megawatt (MW) at the time of independence to over 115,000 MW today. But still, nearly 780 million rural households are without electricity.
Today, a power generation capacity of 4,800 MW from renewables, which is about 4.4% of the total installed capacity, is operational in the country. The total potential of renewables for power generation is estimated to be 82,000 MW. The draft RE policy prepared by the MNES has set a goal of power generation of 10,000 MW through renewable modes by the year 2012.
BHEL – a pioneer in harnessing Renewable Energy
BHEL, the largest engineering and manufacturing enterprise in India has played a stellar role in the power development programme of the country. 65% of India’s total installed utility generating capacity (thermal, hydro, nuclear and gas-based) accounting for over 75,700 MW has been supplied and commissioned by BHEL. This means, three houses out of four in the country are lit by power generated by BHEL sets.
The Sun provides enough energy in one minute to cater to global energy needs for one year. In one day, it provides more energy than our current population would consume in 27 years. India receives 5000 trillion kWh/year of solar energy, far more than the total energy consumption of the country.
BHEL decided very early to play an active role in the harnessing of eco-friendly Non-Conventional Energy Sources (NCES), which are abundantly available in the country. In line with its Corporate Social Responsibility, BHEL commenced the manufacture of solar photovoltaic cells and modules at its Bangalore Plant, and subsequently set up stand-alone as well as grid-interactive solar photovoltaic power plants for supply of electricity to far-flung remote areas. Till the recent past, consistent power supply for ten or more hours was a distant dream for people living in remote areas like the Lakshadweep islands, the Sunderbans delta in West Bengal or the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Power generation in these places was primarily through diesel generator sets, a costly proposition for the islanders, as these places are linked to the mainland only by ships, flight services or mechanized / wooden sailing vessels.
The solar power plants commissioned by BHEL in these islands have heralded a new era in the lives of the islanders. By providing environment-friendly, uninterrupted power to the Airport, Shipyard, Tourist Cottages, Residential Houses, Cottage Industries, Government Offices, Community Lighting etc. these eco-friendly power plants have reduced the dependence on oil and its hazards.
Mousuni Island – India’s largest stand-alone solar power plant transforms the life of islanders
The people of Mousuni Island in the Sunderbans delta got their first ray of ‘light’ when BHEL commissioned in February 2001, the first Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) Power Plant of 55 kW in this island, which is located in South Parganas district of West Bengal. Soon enough, a new era of prosperity was ushered in when BHEL commissioned India’s largest off grid stand-alone SPV power plant of 105 kW capacity in Mousuni – the second such plant in the island in June 2003.
This has changed the quality of life of the 700 houses of Mousuni Island, paving the way for setting up of village-based cottage industries, telecommunication and infrastructure, besides providing thrust to tourism. The plant is also catering to the drinking water needs of the villagers.
Devoid of any known sources of power, Mousuni Island has been provided with local generation and mini off-grid concept of village electrification through Solar Photovoltaic based power systems by West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA), Kolkata.
A novel method of selling electricity has also been adopted at Mousuni Island by employing prepaid Energy meters on trial basis. Energy is being sold to selected customers through smart cards. Each consumer is provided with a smart card, which gets uniquely identified with the energy meter, installed at his premises. The system also provides an alarm before the credit runs out. The installation of prepaid Energy meters shall help in regularizing revenue collection trends. Based on the successful implementation of these prepaid energy meters on trial basis, WBREDA has now planned to install prepaid energy meters in large numbers in the upcoming projects.
Solar power plants have come as a boon to the people in this remote and backward area, which was deprived of conventional electricity. Today, the residents of this island are able to continue their activities like community meets, cultural programmes and coaching of their children even beyond sunset. People who led a monotonous life of retiring to bed at dusk, can now lead an active life after dark also, by choosing newer avenues for their livelihood, engaging in community meetings besides catching up with the fast changing world through the electronic media. This solar power plant also powers a deep tube well for providing clean drinking water to the islanders. BHEL has also been assigned the responsibility of operating and maintaining this power plant for five years.
Following the successful commissioning of this project, WBREDA has reposed confidence and recently awarded another prestigious contract of BHEL for setting up five more stand-alone solar power plants.
Expected to be commissioned in the next financial year, BHEL will also operate and maintain these plants for 10 years.
Solar Power Plants commissioned by BHEL in the Lakshadweep Islands
Lakshadweep is the only coral atoll of India surrounded by the Arabian Sea. It has a lagoon area of 4200 sq. km, territorial water of 20,000 sq. km. And it accounts for 4,00,000 sq. km. of total Exclusive Economic Zone of the country. The literal meaning of Lakshadweep is one-lakh islands. However, actually there are 36 islands with a total area of 32 sq. km. Out of the 36 islands, only 11 are inhabited. The total population of the islands is about 70,000 people. The islands lie about 220 to 440 km. from the coastal city of Kochi in Kerala.
The geographic location, ecological consideration and energy demand pattern of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep make solar photovoltaics one of the most appropriate solutions to meet the energy demand of this area.
The islands of Lakshadweep receive abundant sunlight throughout the year except for a couple of months during monsoon. This provides an ideal opportunity for the use of solar power in the islands.
With a view to make use of the abundant sunlight for electricity generation and also to protect the ecology and environment of the coral islands, which were threatened by pollution caused by diesel power plants, the Electricity Department of Lakshadweep approached BHEL for deploying solar photovoltaic systems in the islands. Initially the smallest island of Bitra was surveyed and a 5 kW SPV power plant was set up there in 1988. Based on its successful operation, a 10 kW SPV power plant was installed in 1991 at Bangaram Island and 50 kW SPV plant in Kadmat Island. Apart from these plants, solar PV street lighting systems were installed by BHEL besides distribution of solar lanterns to the islanders.
The successful operation of these SPV power plants emboldened the Electricity Department to embark on a major programme of providing electricity through solar power plants to the various islands.
Surveys were jointly conducted with BHEL in all the islands and the single largest order for 7 Grid-Interactive Solar Photovoltaic power plants of 100 kW each to be installed at Agatti, Andrott, Kavaratti, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Amini and Chetlat islands in Lakshadweep, was placed on BHEL with funding from Lakshadweep Administration and Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources.
With the completion of this project by BHEL this year, the total generating capacity from SPV Power Plants in Lakshadweep will touch 1050 kilowatt and this will become the largest ever Solar Photovoltaic island electrification project in the Asia Pacific Region. Apart from annual saving in fuel costs, estimated at around Rs. One crore, the grid-interactive solar power plants will pave the way for safeguarding the fragile ecology of the coral islands.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands
BHEL took the initiative and set up photovoltaic-based street lighting systems on a large-scale, way back in 1986. Subsequently, a 50 Kilowatt Grid Interactive Solar Power Plant was commissioned by BHEL at Niel Island and another plant of 50 kW capacity has been commissioned at Havelock Island.
BHEL has so far supplied solar modules and system for generating over 15 Megawatt of power, covering various applications like Home Lighting Systems, Stand-alone Street Lighting Systems, Grid-Interactive, Hybrid and Stand-alone Power Plants, Rural Automatic Telephonic Exchanges, Refrigeration Systems, Unmanned Offshore Oil Platforms, Meteorological Data Collection Platforms, Direct Reception Television Sets, Battery Charging, Water Pumping Systems, Railways, Microwave Repeater Stations etc.
“Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) is an icon of an incredible success story, from a humble beginning to becoming the largest engineering enterprise of its kind in the country and one of the foremost companies in the international power arena. BHEL is a multi product company offering over 180 highly sophisticated engineering products under one umbrella.
BHEL is a pioneer and market leader in renewable energy devices and products including SPV power systems. The Electronics Division at Bangalore manufactures a range of electronic equipment for all types of power control systems including renewable energy applications such as Thyristor Converters with Digital Regulation System, PWM Inverters, Induction Motor Drives, Load Commutated Inverters, DC High Current Rectifiers, Distributed Control Systems and Instrumentation.
Accredited with ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001 certification, BHEL enjoys international recognition as responsible corporate citizen creating value for users of its products and services. SESI is proud to bestow the PV SEC Award for Applications for the year 2004 on Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (EC Division)”.
(Source: BHEL, New Delhi)
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