The Telegraph
Monday , February 4 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sun power plan for petrol pumps

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) petrol pumps in the state are padding up to go green and reduce dependence on conventional power supply from the government.

The IOC has decided to introduce solar power to operate all its petrol pumps in Patna and other parts on the state. In Patna, there are 100 IOC pumps while Bihar has 1,300 such facilities.

Explaining the reason for the initiative, a senior officer of the oil company told The Telegraph: “The petrol pumps are often unable to earn any profit as they are forced to use generators because of the poor power supply in the state. So, we have decided to operate petrol pumps using solar energy to address the problem of frequent power cuts.”

For now, the alternative power arrangement would be introduced only in areas that get ample sunlight.

The IOC official said: “A petrol pump requires around 4kilowatt electricity everyday. At present, the pumps depend on power supply from government sources. But in Bihar, the power supply is erratic. As a result, we have to run the pumps on generators and gensets.”

He added: “The generators usually operate on diesel. As you know, the price of diesel and petrol keeps rising at regular intervals. Besides Patna, most pumps in districts run on generators. So, it is very expensive to operate the petrol pumps.”

Converting to solar power would make the operation of the pumps smoother and economical. The cost of conversion is also not too high.

“It takes only a one-time investment of Rs 5 lakh,” said the IOC officer.

Besides economy, there are other benefits of using the alternative source of power as well.

Discussing the benefits of solar power, the IOC officer said: “Solar power can be easily stored and used at anytime to operate the petrol pumps.”

The corporation is not introducing the project without a little net practice. A pilot project has already begun in Samastipur district.

“A petrol pump at Dalsinghsarai in Samastipur is already operating with solar power. One pump each at Supaul, Bhagalpur, Purnea and Munger also operate with solar power,” said the official.

The initiative would, however, not be universal.

“Solar power can be used only a places that get sufficient sunlight,” said the official.

He added: “For example, the new system would not work at our petrol pump on Boring Road near Dakbungalow roundabout because the highrises around it block the sunlight. But at other places like Rajabazaar, Phulwarisharif and New Bypass can benefit from the alternative energy source as it gets enough sunlight.”

According to the plan, petrol pumps in and around Patna would start operating on solar power.

The official said: “We incur a loss of Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 everyday by running our pumps on generators. We would earn profit once we convert to the solar system.”

Shifting to the solar mode would be beneficial for the districts, which are already suffering from a paucity of power. The electricity supplied to the pumps would then be utilised for other uses.