According to reports, the Ashden India Collective, a team comprising Ashden awardees from India headed by solar power expert S P Gon Chaudhuri, has received a grant of Rs 40 lakh from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to prepare an action plan for commercial use of renewable energy in five states of the country.
The Ashden Award, awarded by the Ashden trust, is a prestigious award given for the promotion and use of sustainable energy. It is popularly known as the “Green Oscars”. Gon Chaudhuri had received the award in 2003.
The Ashden team has also received a grant of about Rs 16 lakh from GIZ – a German international agency which has developed a rating system for cooking stoves used on a mass scale.
The five states for which the action plan will be prepared are Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam and Jharkhand, with the Ashden team being headquartered in Kolkata. “The action plan will help in increasing productive activity of renewable energy for commercial purposes, such as using solar-powered boats and ricksaws, and this will also help promote eco-tourism. Work has already started and the action plan will be submitted to the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE),” Gon Chaudhuri said.
Union MNRE secretary Dr S Agnihotri was recently in the city to discuss the issue with Gon Chaudhuri and his team. The Ashden UK Trust will also give technical support to the programme.
The Ashden India Collective had earlier prepared a report recommending ways to develop off-grid renewable energy in the country. According to estimates, about 54% of rural households still do not have access to electricity. MNRE has been promoting off-grid renewable energy for a long time but the growth of off-grid systems hasn’t reached satisfactory levels so far. “A proper policy and regulatory framework is required for fully exploiting the economical and commercial potential of decentralized renewable energy systems,” Gon Chaudhuri said.
In Bengal, commercial use of solar power has already started to take place in quite a few areas. Already, the Hidco authorities are working to develop Rajarhat New Town as a solar city as earmarked by the Centre and the authorities are working on setting up LED street lights, using solar panels on the rooftops of highrises and entertainment and community lighting where solar power is used.
The authorities are also giving much importance on developing energy efficiency in the existing buildings by using solar power tools like solar water heaters and to set up more green buildings in the township using renewable energy modules.