Wind energy is answer to Bihar’s power woes

As electricity remains a major issue in Bihar polls, Greenpeace activists here Friday called for decentralisation of power generation and use of renewable sources to solve the state’s energy woes.

Holding a workshop at the globe-shaped ‘Urja Kranti Kendra’ (originally called the Climate Rescue Station), set up in Patna, the environment protection organisation activists emphasised that decentralised efforts may solve the power problems of the state.

‘Bihar is one of the states lagging behind in power availability. There is a huge demand for power and equally huge deficit. Renewable energy at decentralised level can solve the problem,’ Greenpeace activist Vinuta Gopal said.

Run completely on renewable energy, the station aims at promoting renewable energy, primarily solar and wind power. The history of this station goes back to Europe’s lignite mines in the ‘black triangle’ region spread across Germany, Poland and the Chezch Republic.

‘The kendra formed a focal point for the anti-coal movement in the area. It also drew attention towards the link in coal mining and climate change during the CoP 14 (14th Conference of Parties),’ she said.

The 12-metre high geodesic dome is made of laminated timber poles bolted together with steel brackets and a heavy wooden and steel floor. The dome is covered with an eco-friendly, waterproof sheet, printed with the image of earth.

Setting up the ‘Kendra’ in Patna aims at attracting attention towards the possibility of using renewable energy in solving the power problems of the state.

‘Greenpeace believes Bihar can leapfrog into the future to provide for the energy needs of the rural population in a sustainable manner. To do this, the state must chart an alternative development pathway, using decentralised renewable energy,’ Gopal says.

‘Centralised power reaches urban centres and industries but not to the poor, so decentralisation is needed,’ she added.

Greenpeace today unveiled the “Urja Kranti Kendra”, a four-storey high globe powered entirely by solar energy, to drive home the message that Bihar could take a lead by choosing renewable energy (RE) to solve its power crisis.

At the launch, the environmental watchdog released a report card exposing the various parties’ performance in their support for the only viable and sustainable energy option for the state. They also released ‘Empowering Bihar ,’ a booklet of articles and photographs to prove that RE is already providing energy services to over one lakh people in the state.

“This Urja Kranti Kendra is to showcase the RE solution to the people and policy makers in Bihar. The state is already leading the way in decentralised energy solutions. If it gets political support, it can lead the country in building an energy infrastructure of the future,” said Samit Aich, Executive Director of Greenpeace India, who was present at the launch.

Releasing the report card, Ramapati Kumar, Greenpeace campaigner, said, “While we are happy to see that there is support for renewable across party lines, clearly, the JD (U) – BJP combine manifesto has best articulated its vision of renewable energy.” Greenpeace gave the Bharatiya Janata Party manifesto four stars, Janata Dal (United) three and a half and Rashtriya Janata Dal three stars on the basis of each of their manifesto texts on renewable energy, and on creating the required framework in the state to ensure investment in RE.

Under the traditional, centralised system, Bihar is reeling under a power crisis. It has the lowest per capita power consumption; 93 units as against the national average of 715 units . According to a recent study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India , the state has the highest peak deficit at 33.7 per cent. It is largely dependent on import of energy from other states and the central grid, as most of the power plants and coal reserves were sectioned with Jharkhand after bifurcation in 2000.

With the installation of the Urja Kranti Kendra, Greenpeace seeks to prove that Bihar has plenty of renewable energy sources that can be tapped to fill the state’s electricity deficit, and allow Bihar to leapfrog to an energy-secure future.

Also present at the inauguration was Dr Razi Ahmed, Gandhian and head of the Gandhi Sangrahalaya.

The Urja Kranti Kendra is a striking globe-shaped structure that runs on two kilowatts of solar power created through solar photovoltaic panels. Similarly, solar energy could easily power the average urban household in India, which runs on three kilowatts of power. The Kendra demonstrates that energy can be generated at or near the point of use as opposed to in a centralised system and transported long distances to end users.

The Kendra will be in Patna for 10 days – from 20th October to 29th October – to inspire the people and leaders of Bihar as to the possibility of building an energy secure state through renewable energy solutions.