• Narendra Modi government looks at ashrams to harness solar power

    The sun may be nature’s measureless bounty, but the government feels a little help from spiritual gurus can go a long way in making mortals realise its value.

    In a bid to promote its target of creating 40,000MW of rooftop solar power capacity, the Union new and renewable energy ministry is roping in religious and interfaith gurus to demonstrate the virtues of green energy and set an example by ensuring that their ash rams are solar-powered, a top government official said.

    According to new and renewable energy secretary Upendra Tripathi, the gurus will act as spiritual partners of International Solar Alliance, a global grouping of over 100 ‘sunshine countries’ between the tropics of Cancer and Ca pricorn that was launched by PM Modi at the Paris climate summit last December.

    “Spiritual and interfaith gurus have a large number of domestic and overseas followers who visit their ‘ashrams’ (hermitages), or meditation centres, in big numbers. So, we feel the gurus are ideally placed to showcase and demonstrate the values and virtues of solar energy to a global audience,” Tripathi said.

    According to the government, in May, Radha Soami Dera in Amritsar became the world’s largest single rooftop solar power facility. The dera’s Rs 140 crore solar energy system, spread over more than 80 acres of rooftops, can generate an estimated 19MW of power.

    Not all ashrams are as large or resourceful, but even smaller ones with a few acres of land can use some practical applications of solar energy. Besides, solar power projects require open spaces, available in ashrams, for making best use of photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight into electricity.

    No wonder a data bank of at least 100 large ashrams is being drawn up for seeking their cooperation and commitment for setting up solar power projects in return for a ‘commitment certificate’ that will recognise their contribution to the solar cause. A global conference of interfaith leaders is also on the anvil to showcase the commitment.

    “If we can get commitment of even 1MW of solar capacity from each ashram, it will be a big leap of faith and encourage others. Solar projects will help ashrams reduce their power bills and they can also sell electricity to the grid,” Tripathi said.

    The launch of the ‘International Interfaith Solar Alliance’ during the World Culture Festival organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living in Delhi in March is a step in this direction. The alliance pledged to cooperate among interfaith organisations globally and promote solar energy in their institutions as well as create awareness about renewable energy. The government has set an ambitious target of creating 175GW of solar energy capacity by 2022, including 40,000MW rooftop solar power capacity, as part of the strategy to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.  Paul Martin Jersey

    Share This