Going Green: Indian ports take steps for energy conservation

Indian ports take steps for energy conservation

The Ministry of Shipping (MoS) has undertaken an initiative to implement utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plant

projects at various major ports. The target is to set up solar power plants totalling a capacity of around 110 GW at seven major ports. This is in line with the central government’s target of increasing India’s solar power capacity under the National Solar Mission from the current 20 GW to 100 GW by 2022. This target has now been split into two parts: 40 GW of rooftop plants and 60 GW of large- and medium-scale grid-connected solar power projects. Overall, this is expected to entail an investment of Rs 6,000 billion.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has been appointed as the overall project management consultant for these projects. An MoU has been signed in this regard between SECI and the Indian Ports Association, on behalf of the individual port trusts, to implement solar energy projects.

In order to achieve this target, the installation of grid-connected solar power plants is under way at various major ports. In addition, rooftop solar power projects has also been undertaken at various ports, and related processes have started.

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VO Chidambaranar (VOC) port is one of the first ports to set up a solar power plant. In September 2015, a 100 kW solar power plant was commissioned at the port.

Apart from VOC, a 10 MW ground-mounted solar power plant is likely to be commissioned at Visakhapatnam port by March 2016. The 10 MW solar power plant will not only meet the entire power requirements of the port amounting to about 15 million units per annum, but also enable the port to divert surplus power to the state grid.

In November 2015, the port issued a letter of intent to Jakson Engineers Limited, Noida, to set up the plant. The company would be installing solar panels to generate 2 MW by January 2016, and the remaining 8 MW by March 2016. The total cost of the project is Rs 600 million including annual maintenance costs of Rs 25 million for seven years. Apart from Visakhapatnam port, solar power plants are also being installed at Paradip, New Mangalore, Kamarajar, VOC and Kandla.

To conclude, if the MoS target is achieved, the major ports will become self-reliant in terms of energy consumption. The port solar plants will not only reduce the burden on state power grids, but will also provide them with surplus power. However, setting up the proposed capacity will be a daunting task given the constraints posed by the non-availability of land and load consumption. As per MoS estimates, the feasible capacity in terms of available land is only 48 GW, which is less than 50 per cent of the proposed capacity addition of 110 GW.