View from India: Renewable energy success stories suggest bright future

A village that is solar powered, buildings that sport a green hue and an ancient city that has adopted high-tech water management solutions. These are some of the large-scale renewable energy projects happening across India.

Hyderabad, the capital city of Telengana, made international news earlier this month. The city has bagged the prestigious ‘World Green City Award 2022.’ Hyderabad has won top accolades in the category Living Green for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth at the International Association of Horticulture Producers (AIPH) 2022 World Green Cities Awards organised in Jeju, South Korea.

Hyderabad was the only city from India that was selected for the award. Internationally, Hyderabad has raced ahead of Paris, Bogota, Mexico City, Montreal and Fortaleza in Brazil. “These international awards are a proof that the state government is strongly implementing the Haritaharam and urban development programmes... giving green fruits to the country,” said Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao, the chief minister (CM) of Telangana, sharing his happiness. The greening of the city is something to reckon with.

Hyderabad embarked on its green journey in 2015 through its flagship programme Haritha Haram in Telangana. The programme flagged off by the CM is a move towards rejuvenating degraded forests. The green idea extends towards protecting these forests from threats such as smuggling, encroachment, fire and grazing. Parts of forest areas along the peripheries of the city have been developed into urban forest blocks. These blocks or parks have evolved into conservation zones with large-scale tree plantation. Local trees and soil have gone into its making, thereby conserving the region’s unique biodiversity and lowering habitat loss.

Haritha Haram is supposed to be the third-largest afforestation programme in human history. It has paid rich and green dividends. An expenditure of over ₹8,511 crore, has gone towards the planting of 243 crore saplings in the last eight years. This has led to the rejuvenation of 9.65 lakh acres of forest areas in the state. That apart, it has lowered the carbon footprint and given the place an aesthetic appeal.

The green trail continues. Flipkart, India’s homegrown e-commerce marketplace, has won the prestigious Indian Green Building Council’s (IGBC) certification. A Platinum rating, which is the highest IGBC certification level, has been awarded to the Phase-I of the Haringhata Fulfillment Centre in West Bengal.

“As we continue to democratise e-commerce across India and create a shared value for ecosystem partners, we are making conscious efforts towards incorporating sustainability aspects across our supply chain facilities to reduce our environmental and social impact while building a responsible value chain,” said Prabhakar Kolla, vice president and head of facilities and infrastructure at Flipkart.

The Platinum-rated facility has many green features, including a 2.75 MW solar rooftop PV plant installed which meets 100 per cent of the daytime power requirements. Among other aspects, it has a pond with a rainwater harvesting capacity of 8,000 cu.m. Other highlights include that 100 per cent of the wastewater is treated and reused for landscaping and flushing, while more than 90 per cent of construction waste is diverted from landfills. Also, 15 per cent of the total cost of materials and equipment used are eco-labeled. Flipkart has also seen a 25 per cent reduction in water consumption through water-efficient fixtures.

Flipkart’s adoption of the rating offers multifold benefits in the construction and operation of the facility. It addresses national priorities such as conserving water, energy, materials and resources and encouraging biodiversity. Further, the intangible benefits accrued via enhanced indoor environmental quality, improved occupational health and safety of the occupants and workers are immeasurable.

“For Flipkart to adopt our latest IGBC 'Green Logistics Parks and Warehouses System' and achieve an IGBC Platinum rating is a well-deserved recognition of their efforts not just to bring increased efficiency to their operations but also develop and contribute to the local community,” said Gurmit Singh Arora, national chairman at IGBC.

Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, is on the banks of the Holy River Ganges. It has a population of over 12lakh and has received around 89lakh visitors in the recent years. Going by these numbers, it is likely that the demand-supply of water resources in the city may not have matched. Varanasi’s water supply body, Jal Kal Department collaborated with ABB India for its smart technology to facilitate smooth and efficient water supply to the city. The city’s pumping station and sewage treatment plants (STPs) have been installed with ABB Softstarters for better water management operations. The technology enables uninterrupted water supply to 60 per cent of Varanasi city and effective pumping of treated water at the government’s sewage treatment plants (STPs). This in turn has supported the nation’s ‘Namami Gange’ programme for Clean Ganga.

An official press release states that Varanasi generates about 300 million litres of sewage daily. The central government embarked on a massive initiative to cleanse the holy river Ganges. Titled 'Clean Ganga', or ‘Namami Gange,’ the programme works towards tapping the major drains flowing into the river and diverting them to STPs. This initiative stops untreated sewage from flowing into the river and thereby prevents it from polluting the river. ABB India’s Softstarters installed at such STPs support the ‘Namami Gange’ programme by efficiently pumping the treated water from the sewage plants back to the river.

As per an announcement, ABB India has been conferred with the 9th Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) Green Champion Award under the category of ‘Pioneer in large scale adoption of Green Factory Buildings in India.’ Aligned with its global 2030 sustainability strategy, ABB is actively enabling a low-carbon society as well as working with its customers and suppliers to implement sustainable practices across its value chain and the lifecycle of its products and solutions.

Meanwhile, Gujarat’s Modhera village in Mehsana district is basking in the sun. Quite literally - as Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared it - India’s first 24x7 solar-powered village.

The solarisation is the outcome of a partnership between the Central and state government. The village has been integrated with a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) at Sujjanpura in Mehsana, about 6km away from the Sun Temple. The Gujarat Government has tweeted stating that over 1,000 solar panels had been installed in villages atop houses, generating electricity round the clock. Modi has urged the people to be self-reliant. “Don’t pay for electricity; sell it and earn from it instead,” he urged.

Well over 1,300 rooftop solar systems have been installed on houses for power generation. During the day, power comes from the solar panels, BESS supplies power at night. Modhera is credited for being the first modern village with a solar-based modern electric-vehicle charging station.

All along, the village has been famous for its iconic Sun Temple, located on the banks of the Pushpavati River. A protected archaeological site, the Sun Temple was built by the Chalukya Dynasty. Its recent solar-powered 3D-projection facility helps educate visitors on the history of Modhera.

Another large-scale solar initiative is that of the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan's Sai Prasadalaya in Shirdi, Maharashtra. Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi, is the Governing and Administrative body of the Shri Saibaba's Samadhi Temple and all other temples on the premises.

In 2016 the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has identified the Shri Sai Baba Sansthan's Sai Prasadalaya in Shirdi as world’s largest solar heating cooking system. To promote the use of non-conventional energy sources, the Sansthan has put up 73 parabolic dishes atop the roof of the kitchen complex. The dishes rotate according to the movement of the sun and produce electricity used for cooking. In short, this is the 'Solar Heating Cooking System' followed in the Prasadalaya. Now that’s food for thought.

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