Once a pioneer in the sector of renewable energy, West Bengal now does not even figure among the top ten states in the country in terms of developing renewable energy, say latest figures available with the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE).
Taking note of this, the state government has taken up a number of projects to develop and promote solar power to reclaim its lost position.
According to figures, states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and even the neighbouring states of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have marched ahead in terms of receiving central funds and implementation of renewable energy schemes and projects.
According to experts, what is unfortunate is the fact that other states followed the model that was first introduced in Bengal and went ahead to promote solar power. But, due to lack of a policy and proper initiative, West Bengal gradually fell behind.
The picture, however, could have been different if the government had carried forward the initiatives that were taken long time back. It was in Bankura way back in 1992 that the country’s first off-grid solar power plant was installed. The country launched a national programme based on the concept.
Again in 1996, the country’s first 500kw Organic waste from agricultural, livestock, and lumber industry products, dead trees, foliage, etc., and is considered a renewable energy source. Biomass can be used as fuel and is most often burned to create steam that powers steam turbine generators. It is also used to make transportation fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, and chemicals like pyrolysis oil that can be burned... More power plant was installed in Gosaba Island in the Sunderbans with an aim to light up the villages. But no more such initiatives were taken up after that. Also, the country’s first 2MW capacity solar power plant grid was connected in Asansol’s Jamuria in 2009 based on which the National Solar Mission was conceived.
“West Bengal has potential to develop renewable energy, especially solar power. Achieving 1000MW of power from renewable energy in the next five years is not difficult but a proper policy guideline should be framed and followed,” said solar power expert S P Ganchaudhuri, who was formerly the managing director of West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation and also the former adviser to the state power department.
The West Bengal government, though, has recently started taking a number of initiatives to develop solar power. The country’s first floating solar power plant was installed only last year on a waterbody at Rajarhat New Town and the state environment department, with the help of the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency and State Pollution Control Board, has started working on a project to install rooftop solar panels in more than 100 schools and primary health-care centres across the state.