Solar panels at the Cochin International Airport in Kochi, Kerala. Solar power in India is a growing industry. Until April 30, the country’s solar grid had a cumulative capacity of 12.50GW.

THE Neyveli Lignite Corporation has long been associated with lignite and its production in Tamil Nadu, which in turn burns the fossil fuel to generate electricity. It has been the mainstay of the company, which is now known as NLC Limited, a public sector entity.

Yet, it has realised that fossil fuel is not the way of the future, and some six decades later is embracing green and sustainable power production via solar power and wind generation. It has launched the construction of a 130MW solar power plant in Neyveli, Tamil Nadu.

“We are also in the process of setting up solar installations to the tune of 500MW in Tamil Nadu and 250MW in Odisha,” chairman and managing director Sarat Kumar Acharya told the Times of India.

He said the company had proposed to set up solar installations in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to generate 1,000MW of power each. The company has also proposed to set up a 200MW wind power generating unit in Tamil Nadu.

In Mathura, as well as Vrindavan and many other towns and cities with their narrow lanes and streets, the auto rickshaws are the lifeline of transport for the locals, and they, too, are going green.

From the traditional diesel-based fuel, many are changing to an electric vehicle, cutting back not only on carbon emission, but also pollution, which grips many cities and towns in India.

Even major transportation hubs such as the Cochin International Airport are going green. Among the first sights that greet visitors at the airport in the city of Kochi is the airport parking lot for private vehicles.

The roof is not covered by conventional roofing, but rather solar panels. The solar panels are part of the airport’s energy self-reliance, making it the world’s first fully solar-powered airport.

Its development, dubbed aviation’s first venture owned by the public, under a public-private partnership, was funded by non-resident Indians in more than 30 countries. While operating on full solar power, Cochin’s airport management plans on expanding capacity and selling excess power generated to the national grid.

And once you hit Cochin City, the latest transportation project to greet you will be the Kochi Metro.

The Metro has several firsts to its credit. It will generate part of its power requirements through solar panels. The solar panels fixed above the Muttam Metro yard and the 11 stations from Aluva to Palarivattom in the first phase of the project will partially meet the energy needs of the Metro.

The first leg of the Metro could use up to 2.15 megawatts of electricity generated by the 12,500 solar panels atop the yard and stations. The Metro will generate 4.5 megawatts of power once the track is completed between Tripunithura and Petta.

Solar power in India is a growing industry. As of April 30, the country’s solar grid had a cumulative capacity of 12.50GW. India quadrupled its solar-generation capacity from 2,650MW on May 26, 2014 to 12,289MW on March 31 this year.

The development of wind power in India began in 1986 with the first wind farms being set up in coastal areas of Maharashtra (Ratnagiri), Gujarat (Okha) and Tamil Nadu (Tirunelveli) with 55kW Vestas wind turbines. In 2015, the government set the target for wind power generation capacity by the year 2022 at 60,000MW.

It is not only the public or private sectors embracing the concept of going green and sustainability, you have individuals such as Praveen Muaralidharan from Kerala, who has embraced the green sustainable way of life.

The managing director of Ecotones Camps Pvt Ltd in Munnar, Kerala, has adopted the green concept and sustainable way of living at his tourist lodge.

It does not use plastics, and uses water from ground sources. Food is sourced from surrounding areas, and is self-sufficient, using natural resources. The rooms and lodges are reed thatched and are sustainable and green.

It is his contribution in making Earth a better place and at the same time inculcating the green concept and sustainability in his guests, employees as well as the local community.

Daily life is also changing. For example, the Kerala state government wants weddings in the state to go green, making the auspicious occasions more nature-friendly.

Plastic and other non-degradable articles, including disposable cups, plates and plastic decorations, will no longer have a place in such occasions. Instead, people would be persuaded to use tumblers, plates and other utensils made of glass and environment-friendly metals.

These efforts by individuals and public sector organisations may not immediately clean up the environment, reduce carbon footprint or restore the ecosystem back to the pristine state as Mother Nature intended, but is nevertheless a step in the right direction at the individual and business levels, giving support to the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the national and international levels.

B. SURESH RAM is a curious cat who believes that his curiosity is going to get the better of him one day. This Perak-born Tottenham Hotspurs supporter has two decades of journalism under his belt.

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