Renewing ties with Renewables

From dung to the sun.  For Tata Power, India’s largest integrated energy major, the year 2014 has certainly been an eventful year, dotted with significant milestones that might well define its future growth. Yes, while its portfolio of work has been as vast and multifarious as usual, its attention has remained riveted on two issues. First, producing ‘clean, green and non-polluting power, that is also affordable to all; and second, involving the civil society, the local communities living in and around its project sites in particular, as partners in this mission.

Not a new strategy. Tata Power has, infact, played a pioneering role in forging strong and committed relationships with local people that span generations. This time, however, the approach is more experimental and the tone more unconventional. Because the partners are being invited to step into territories beyond the realm of conventions. They are being invited into the world of the Renewables. Tata Power has actively adopted ‘clean energy’ in its endeavour to pursue a low-carbon growth model. Today the company’s total generation capacity stands at 8613 MW, of which green energy sources generate 1202 MW. In other words, the Company has 13.90 per cent MW capacity through non carbon-emitting resources, which is in line with its intent to generate 20-25 per cent of power from renewable energy.

Meanwhile, the Coastal Gujarat Private Limited (CGPL), its wholly owned subsidiary, is promoting the use of solar powered appliances extensively among local communities living in and around its project site. CGPL’s flagship scheme, 4000 MW Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP), is located in the Kutch region of Gujarat, spread over 6 catchment villages. Tunda-Vandh, Mota Kandagra of Mundra; Nanabhadia, Tragadi and Modva of Mandvi Taluka of Kutch. “And each of these villages has experienced the glorious touch of sun-generated energy,” enthuses a CGPL staff member who volunteers as a teacher in a school in Modva. From boat lights for the fisherfolk in coastal Tragadi to street lights to illuminate Nanikhakar, Modva and Gundiyali, CGPL is making a determined bid to popularise solar power appliances in every shape and form.

Not all of Tata Power’s clean energy projects aspire to harness the sun, breaking new grounds, but requiring cost intensive cutting age technology. The Company is also delving into the humble dung, an immensely useful energy source that fuels millions of rural households. Tata Power has recently installed 36 Bio-Gas plants across 6 villages in Mundra and Mandvi. Says Mr KK Sharma, CEO and ED, CGPL, “In Tata Power we understand the need for holistic development of a community. The Biogas plants equip us with a bouquet of benefits using readily available natural resources, while protecting the villagers from chronic diseases caused by constant exposure to burning wood and coal”.

With the Company planning to make a determined bid to consolidate its position in the renewables sector 2015, the villages around its project sites may well emerge as role models for the ‘power’ hungry world outside.

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