Kolkata will see the country’s first ever floating solar panel on the water body adjacent to Eco Park in New Town. The project is being spearheaded by solar power expert and former advisor to West Bengal power department, SP Gon Chaudhuri. Talks are that a 15 KW solar power-generating panel would be set up on this water body, which will be centrally funded by Arka IGNOU Community College of Renewable Energy. The government anticipates completion by November this year.
Early next year, the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) is also planning to set up a 500 KW solar power project at an estimated cost of more than Rs 1 crore, as compared to the Rs 40 lakh invested in the 15KW solar power generating panels on the New Town water body. An agency selected through e-tendering by a committee headed by the West Bengal Renewable Development Agency (WBRDA) has been finalised for this project.
The project, which is part of the union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s Solar City programme, was initiated by the solar cell of the Indian Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology (formerly Bengal Engineering and Science University or BESU, Shibpur).
Floating solar units
The NKDA project will consist of a steel structure laid across the link canal flowing alongside Eco Park. The recreational area, which is spread over a generous 480 acres of land, will be entirely supported by the 500 KW power supply from these panels, solving the major distress, rather the irony, of an eco-park eating away at New Town’ s source of power supply.
Similar to these solar panels floating on water bodies, research is being conducted in Australia to measure the pros and cons of covering up a wetland with solar energy-producing panels.
Solar panels afloat on water bodies
Not only are these solar power generators a major boon for the beautification of Eco Park, but they also throw light on the future prospects of generating power for sanitation, which is of grave importance to the country.
UNICEF feels that the success of this project might be the godsend for sanitation issues in schools and in hospitals, as well as in local villages where supply of power is intermittent, leading to non-availability of water (as no pumps can be operated) for toilets, leading in turn to people defecating in the open.
Solar power for sanitation
The solar power generation project will not only eradicate power supply issues in that region but will also help in curbing global warming, save energy, time and resources, provide energy reliability and independence, and most importantly, encourage research and create employment opportunities.
Adding to this, WBREDA has also initiated research on solar-cooled jackets for wearing during summer and pilot projects on solar-powered vehicles for the Sundarbans, which has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Not only is the latter a boost to eco-tourism but is also a contributor to the preservation and conservation of such natural greens, which are essential for safeguarding the natural habitats of the nation.
Written by Ankita Bose for team M3.tv