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Friday , November 9 , 2012
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Sun museum opens doors

- Eastern India’s first solar toy train chugs into 9-acre energy park

Nature-friendly Ranchi is seeing the sunny side of things.

In times of chronic power crunch in Jharkhand, the capital has become the first city in eastern India to host a state-of-the-art museum entirely powered by the sun’s renewable energy.

The sprawling solar landmark at Sidho-Kanhu Park near Raj Bhavan was inaugurated by chief minister Arjun Munda on Thursday evening.

The museum and energy park — a joint venture of Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JREDA) and the Union government with technical support from Bangalore-based Tata Power Solar Systems Limited — will remain open to public from 11am to 6pm six days a week (except Mondays). Fares of amusement rides like toy trains are yet to be fixed.

The first and foremost attraction is the powerhouse museum, complete with a battery bank linked to 150 rooftop panels, a control room and a 225sqm exhibit hall.

The indoor exhibits include nine touchscreen kiosks to test your knowledge on solar energy and history of electricity, an audio-visual machine to measure your height, weight and body mass index, a smokeless chullah, a solar cooker, battery-operated vehicles, a water turbine and a steam turbine.

“The powerhouse generates 20KW for lights, air-conditioner and all the indoor exhibits. Besides, it also controls the two 16-seater toy trains on the nine acre park premises,” JREDA project officer Bimlendu Kumar Rai said, adding that there were 19 renewable energy parks in India, but the museum and solar toy trains were unique to Jharkhand.

Outside, there are 15 solar exhibits — a distillation plant, a dryer, streetlights, toy trains, a battery-operated bicycle and a car, two irrigation pumps, a musical fountain and two solar cookers among others.

Technical adviser of Tata Power Solar Systems M.K. Hira said the fountain stood on 800sqft with 150 purple, green, yellow, red and blue lights. “There will be a 20-minute light and sound show for visitors every evening. The entire system is powered by the sun,” he added.

Rai revealed that the total cost of the project, park and museum included, was around Rs 3 crore.

Energy parks in all Indian states was first mooted in 2003. Though the Centre was funding the project, Jharkhand trailed others because of land crunch. “A few years ago, we identified acres in Hotwar, but the location was not people-friendly. So, we zeroed in on this park, which is centrally located. Work began in 2008, but was completed last month,” an official added.

Majority of states including Bengal, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Harayana boast energy parks. Karnataka capital Bangalore was the first to launch one in 2008.

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