BHUBANESWAR: The International Solar Alliance (ISA), which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP21 in Paris, is all set to usher in introduction of solar energy technology to drive bio-diversity conservation and livelihood at Chilika, Asia’s biggest brackish water lagoon.
From using solar-hybrid engines for tourist boats that ply in the 1100 sq km lake, a designated Ramsar site, plans are at an advanced stage for using renewable technology to run solar dryers and chill rooms of primary fishery cooperative societies (PFCS).
For the project, the ISA will soon sign an MoU with Ramsar Convention and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is working on the details. Once the pact is signed, Chilika will become officially the first Ramsar site globally to be assisted by ISA. Secretary, MNRE Upendra Tripathy, who was in the State last weekend, held a meeting on the matter with the State Government.
If everything goes as per plan, the diesel engine-operated boats plying in the lagoon would be converted into solar hybrid engines over next few years. Thrusters using solar panels would be used by boats and the technology for it will be provided by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar (IIT-Bhubaneswar).
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) Ajit Patnaik said MNRE has already joined hands with IIT-Bhubaneswar for the R&D.
The Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA) will be a partnering agency for the tech know-how which is required for the solar energy engines.
Under the project, all the 1,000-odd tourist boats would eventually come under the renewable energy plan but it would be started on a pilot basis. In each sector of the lagoon, 50 to 60 boats would be fitted with solar hybrid engines.
“Use of solar technology to drive tourist boats will not only reduce oil spill in the lagoon but also cut down the noise pollution that disturbs resident Irrawaddy dolphins. The thruster engine is silent and its design structure is safe for the cetaceans which are a huge tourist draw,” Patnaik told this paper.
While conversion of diesel engine boats to solar hybrid comes under bio-diversity conservation component, promotion of clean energy and livelihood component will cover installation of solar dryers and blowers for the fishermen communities which are dependent on Chilika.
All the 99 solar dryers for dry fish would be made grid independent and blowers, currently, running on electricity, would use solar power. The dryers and blowers have been installed in and around Chilika under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project. Similarly, chill rooms with a capacity of two tonne would be created for cooperative bodies.
Patnaik said, CDA will submit a list of PFCSes and dryers for the project as the MoU would be drawn up very shortly.
Installation of one MW solar power plant for shoreline villages is also part of the plan.