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Home » People » EPR Personality » Micro solar dome by Kolkata solar man

Micro solar dome by Kolkata solar man

September 5, 2019 6:14 pm

Micro solar dome by Kolkata solar man
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The solar man of Kolkata, Dr. Santi Pada Gon Chaudhuri, the first person to initiate the concept of solar, in an interaction with Megha Iyer of EPR, shares his journey that goes back to 1980 to what he thinks of India’s current situation.

Can you please walk us through your solar journey so far?
I started solar energy program, back in 1980-81. In-fact, I was the first person to initiate the concept of solar. My first breakthrough came in 1980, when I was working as an engineer at a hydro power station in Mizoram Tripura border. I helped the tribal workers, who walked 7 kms to work, consume fresh and warm meals anytime during the day by utilising sunlight, and making a box and covering it with glass lid. This gave me further boost to create more innovative solutions in the field of solar.

I shifted my base to West Bengal, with the responsibility to promote the renewable energy in West Bengal working as their Head of Science and Technology Department. Later, I became the Head of Renewable Energy Department in Government of West Bengal. That’s when I wrote a case paper for National Solar Mission in India, and presented it to Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister of India, which was then taken up by the Ministry of Renewable Energy. In 2010, the National Solar Mission was recognised with an aim to achieve 20,000 MW, by the end of 2022, and the new government extended the capacity achievement to 100 GW by 2022. With the help of several substantiating policies, we have over 31,000 MW of solar energy as of now.

What are the work undertaken by you post winning the Mission Innovation Champion Award?
Invention of micro solar dome that delivers 24/7 power supply, got me the Mission Innovation Award of India in June,2019. It was an exciting moment for me, as I was selected for the award from among the other 27 country representatives. Power supply is a concern in the rural slums and in the forest villages, even throughout the day. In such areas, these domes can be installed in the rooftop that absorb and preserve the sunlight during the day time, similar to the PV lights. Interestingly, micro solar dome, which is my patented project, is the world’s first ever integrated system, with a combination of passive and active solar.

Your projects in Herma, Tripura and Kamalpur Village in the Sagar islands, Sunderban!
Please walk us through that.

Herma village in Tripura, was my first solar project site, which also turned out to be the first village to have solar pumps for village electrification. Since there was no source for electricity, I installed solar lighting and solar micro pumps for rural irrigation. That’s when solar PV came to India and most of the people, including the urban populace were naïve of the term. The Mizoram and this Herma village projects caught the eyes of Tripura’s Chief Minister Nripen Chakraborty, who thereafter recognised my work.

In 1983, I was invited to work closely with the Planning Commission of India, and also was the Ambassador to the North East India for promoting solar energy in the area. Installing solar plants and solar projects in Sundarbans of West Bengal was another breakthrough. Since it was located in the island areas, power generation and power supply was a major concern. MNRE and I successfully completed the installation of solar power plants, pumps, biomass in and around the Sundarbans region, by installing mini/micro grid in Kamalpur, located in the island of Sundarbans, which then became hub for solar energy. The micro grid delivered 8 hours of uninterrupted power supply during the night. With the amount of research and successful projects.

Floating solar is emerging quickly. What were your contributions towards the same?
In 2014, I proposed installing floating solar plants to the MNRE. Since land acquisition has always been a huge concern in India, it’s difficult to acquire huge lands for solar power plants. So, for utilising the water bodies to generate electricity, I suggested installing a floating solar, in the New town area, which is adjacent to Kolkata city. Designing the floating solar that can withstand and sustain in water by adjusting itself with the wildness of it was a big challenge, but with the required support, I successfully installed the in 2014 itself. Considering the upward inclination towards the solar and the idea of floating solar, the World Bank has been interestingly following the project and are promoting them in India.

What are your views on India achieving the renewable target, especially, in the wake of not having sustainable renewable policies?
There are some loose ends regarding the existing policies. Since electricity is a concurrent subject, it’s not just the State Government or the Central Government, but the states have been provided with certain guidelines which are not yet brought in action by most of the states. Only few among the assigned states are purchasing the designated power that falls under the Central Government’s directives, whereas the rest are not even purchasing. Even if the Central Government is positive and has framed the guidelines aiming at drawing enormous growth to the section, the states are not in agreement with them. Moreover, they don’t seem to be keen on focusing in the rural and slum areas, for implementing solar energy.

So, I think there has to be an agreement and an opposite co-operation and coordination amidst the state and centre. The policies being produced and being drafted by both Central and the State Government, must tally or must complement each other. Unless there’s an appropriate communication among the two bodies, implementing such crucial projects would remain a challenge.

Do you think we would be able to reduce the carbon emissions by the said target?
Yes! With the help of renewable energies and the electric vehicles that will soon be commenced by the auto industry can reduce the carbon emission and help us reach the target of emitting carbon footprints. But, again, this is associated with achieving the target of renewable energy. Unless, we are able to generate the said amount of renewable energy, it will pose a challenge for us to reduce carbon emission by 33 per cent till 2030. The possible way to reduce the carbon emission is achieving a target of 200 GW of renewable energy, simultaneously, and converting at least 50 per cent of the fuel based vehicles to electric vehicles in the overall Indian transport.

Please tell us about your future projects.
Currently, I am working on Solar Pump Storage Schemes in Manipur. It is an integration of solar power and hydro power. Interestingly, hydro power plants in India doesn’t reap during summer. This is an aftermath because of the insufficient availability of water.

As a MI champion, my mission post procurement award, is, as I mentioned, is to come up with a solution for the impending water crisis in the country, particularly drinking water. For the same reason, I have planned to initiate rain water harvesting and solar pumping. The two projects will be integrated, where the rain water stored through harvesting will be storage in the overhead tanks and the pumps will further fetch in the feed for the end user. The model is of high calibre, especially for the rural areas.

The idea has already been proposed to DST, Government of India and is yet to be approved as there are multiple stages of verification and authentication and calculation of workability. The programme, once approved, will be launched throughout the country. Being innovative and making innovations is a very primary requirement of the solar sector. I was garnered with National Science Academy Award and Gold Medal for inventing innovation applications for solar energy.

The policies drafted by Central and State Government, must tally each other; otherwise, without appropriate communication among the two bodies, implementing crucial projects would remain a challenge.
Prof. (Dr.) S.P. Gonchaudhuri, Chairman, State Solar Power Commitee,
Govt. of Tripura, President NBIRT

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