Using a unique blend of technologies of the non-conventional energy sector, a Punjab engineer has developed a concept and designs of a micro hybrid power plant, which could not only make a village self sufficient in its power needs but provide organic manure as well as run chilling centres or cold storages.

Talking to The Hindu, Bulwant Singh Brar, who retired from the Punjab Mandi Board said that he had the patents and trademark for the mathematical formula he had worked out to set up MHPP of 250 kilowatt through a combination of solar power, bio-gas and bio-mass technologies to produce electricity. Each plant can be set up on a 2.5 acre plot of land with an investment of approximately Rs. 3.00 crore and provide employment to about 20 persons, while the per unit cost of power generation would average around Rs. 4.29.

Following his meetings at different levels, Mr. Brar said that Department of Science and Technology of the Union government had agreed to provide up to 80 per cent of the funds required to set up pilot plants, if a relevant proposal was processed and recommended by the respective State governments, some of which have initiated the procedure to identify at least one spot in every district.

Mr. Brar said that one MHPP could come up in just six months as compared to the years spent on constructing the conventional thermal plants. A village with about 3000 cattle head could provide 27 tonnes of cow dung to produce biogas, three tonnes of farm residue like paddy husk, straw or cotton stalks as bio-mass raw material for such a plant. Coupled with the solar power that would be generated on the plants rooftop, the village could be assured of 24 hours power supply, for domestic use. The plant would daily produce around 2.7 tonnes of compost and about 15 quintals of ash, whose management or storage was a viable proposition.

Mr. Brar said that these non-conventional energy sources set up singularly failed as alternate providers of power due to flaws in the design, availability of raw material and disposal of waste. A 250 KW Bio-gas power plant alone required 2.00 to 2.50 acres of land, an investment of Rs. 3.00 crore and manpower of up to 25 persons. It required 80 tonnes of cow dung as raw material and produced 8 tonnes of compost. The raw material could be collected from 8 to 10 thousand cattle head, spread over three to four villages. Collection of raw material and disposal of compost added to the cost of operation, where the average per unit cost of generation worked to be around Rs 6.00. Similar was the case in power plants based on bio-mass alone which produce 50 quintals of ash daily, while due to availability of sunlight the cost of per unit cost of generation at a separate solar plant worked to nearly Rs 10.

The steam generated from these MHPP would be utilised in running cold storage and milk chilling plants at no extra cost, Mr Brar sought to remind that while the mixture of compost and ash used as manure would reduce the cost of farm inputs.

Mr Brar emphasised that unlike the conventional power generation and distributions the MHPP, being the 24 hours local facility, would not be plagued by common problems of grid failure. Transmission losses would be negligible, while the stakeholders would receive quality power without any fluctuation in voltage. If operated on a co-operative mode, these plants would cover up their costs in 10 years, while 5000 such plants also provided a major employment avenue for engineers, technicians, laboratory attendants and semi skilled labour.