State finally wakes up to renewable energy potential

Solar panels installed at Cochin international airport. - Photo: By Special Arrangement

Solar panels installed at Cochin international airport. - Photo: By Special Arrangement

The host of renewable energy projects announced in the State Budget suggest that Kerala has finally decided tap the resource to meet its energy demands.

Finance Minister K.M. Mani on Friday announced that a wind farm with a capacity to generate 200 MW would be set up with the help of National Thermal Power Corporation. Another wind farm with 22 MW capacity would come up at Kanjikkode.

The new proposals come at a time when neighbouring Tamil Nadu has virtually exhausted its wind energy potential.

According to experts, wind speeds in several parts of the State are comparable to that in Tamil Nadu.

Lack of favourable policies had limited the State’s options to tap the wind energy potential. Wind energy projects in the State were also hit by various other factors. The wind turbines set up at Attappadi had run into trouble due to the controversy over acquisition of adivasi land.

Kerala has an unused wind energy potential of at least 2,000 MW, according to a study conducted by a private agency in the wind energy sector. About 1,500 megawatt wind power can be generated at Walayar and nearby areas, the study said.

However, the State’s wind energy potential was grossly underestimated by an assessment conducted several years ago by Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT). The study placed the potential at a mere 600 MW. Ramakkalmedu in Idukki district was considered one of the potential sites and a few wind turbines were installed there.

One of the initiatives announced by the Finance Minister was the setting up of solar energy panels at reservoirs. The panels could be fixed on floating rafts to tap solar energy. R.V.G. Menon, an expert on solar energy, said the model has been functioning well in several countries. Mr. Menon said the proposal was a good option considering the lack of large tracts of land in Kerala. The problem could be overcome by establishing solar panel rafts in reservoirs in the State, he said.

“Idukki reservoir has an area of 60 sq. km. If at least 10 per cent of the area can be utilised for the project, then 600 MW can be generated,” he said. The project was proposed about five years ago, but no one seemed to realise the need then, he said.

However, M. George, an entrepreneur in the solar energy sector, criticised the proposal to set up solar panels on reservoirs and said the government could instead look at the prospect of setting up rooftop solar panels at government offices.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2022 12:55:34 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/state-finally-wakes-up-to-renewable-energy-potential/article4519552.ece