The Telegraph
Saturday , February 8 , 2014
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Ray of hope for power, water

The state seems to have found a sunny solution to the twin problems of water and electricity shortage, which becomes acute in summer.

The drinking water and sanitation department is planning to come up with a solar system that will serve the dual purpose of providing water and electricity in areas devoid of the two key resources. The first pilot project has been mooted at Mandar block in Ranchi district.

On Friday, the department floated an advertisement, inviting expressions of interest from agencies to conduct a feasibility study of the ambitious project. A pre-bid meeting has been scheduled on February 18, while the last date of filing applications is February 24.

According to P.K. Singh, executive engineer of the department’s Ranchi west division, it will be a first-of-its-kind venture in the state.

“Although solar-powered hand pumps were installed in a few rural areas over the past few years, the number is too less. This is the first time that the department is planning to establish a full-fledged solar energy system that can provide both water and electricity to people,” he said.

The department has selected Mandar on the capital’s outskirts to start the project on a pilot basis. If successful, the model will be replicated in the entire state.

However, the total expenditure is yet to be worked out. Singh said that they were not in a position to offer a rough estimate as it was a new territory for them. “Hence, we have invited proposals from companies/agencies having expertise in the field to evaluate the total expenditure and subsidy that the government can provide,” he said.

The system will work on the principle of converting sunray into electricity through photovoltaic or solar panels. Huge grid solar panels will be installed in the selected zone for absorbing sunlight. Electricity generated through this process will then be stored in battery banks and can be used to power households and run submersible pumps for taking out groundwater.

Speaking about the solar-powered hand pumps, Singh said they were of two variants — 900MW and 1,800MW.

“The cost of the 1,800MW unit is roughly about Rs 5 lakh. But as far as our proposed project is concerned, the solar system, besides providing water, will supply electricity to around 70-80 households. Hence, the solar panel will obviously be of larger capacity,” he said.

If the pilot project works, it will be a boon for the state that depends on excessive use of non-renewable energy in a major way, the executive engineer said. “The solar system will not only bail out those places that don’t have electricity connection, but also offer an alternative choice to residents of areas that have power lines,” he added.

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