Varanasi can generate 676 MW from solar rooftop panels

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi has the potential to generate 676 MW power from solar rooftop panels alone. However, outdated grids and a huge line loss pose a challenge, said a report.

The Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED) report “Vibrant Varanasi, Transformation through Solar Rooftop”, released here by Girish Chandra Tripathi, Vice-Chancellor, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), also set a road-map for the historic city to generate 300 MW by 2025.

The recognised potential — 676 MW — can be achieved using only 8.7 per cent of the total eligible Varanasi roof space within the 69 sq. km of built up area in the city’s municipal corporation area.

“However, given the 40-42 per cent of distribution loss, against a national average of 24 per cent, and inefficient grid of Varanasi based discom Poorvanchal Vidhyut Vitran Nigam Ltd, it would take at least till 2032 to tap the entire potential,” Abhishek Pratap, Director-Programmes CEED and lead author of the report, told IANS.

Pratap said while the present annual power demand of Varanasi is 861 MW, the growth of the town is set to increase the demand to 1700 MW by 2025.

“Power generation in Varanasi is growing by 5-6 per cent annually like any other tier-2 city. But the growth in construction and industries around the city projects need 8 per cent growth. Our roadmap aims to produce 300 MW from solar rooftop by 2025, but there will be hurdles,” Pratap said.

As per the survey, despite having huge potential, the development has to go slow in order to avoid grid tripping or failure.

“We can’t add even 300 MW suddenly, to avoid grid failure it should be 175 MW… so, the plan is to add 20-25 MW per year to the grid and updating the grid, lines and meters accordingly,” Pratap said, adding that grid expansion and upgradation is a must.

At present, the city of Varanasi through the ongoing individual solar rooftop projects at the airport, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Vikas Bhawan, produces power in the range of a few kilowatts.

Meanwhile, the entire state of Uttar Pradesh produces only 40 MW of solar power at present against the target of producing 10.7 GW (10,700 MW) of solar power and additional 4.3 GW (4,300 MW) of power from solar rooftops by 2022.

As per Prime Minister Modi’s aspirations, India’s domestic solar programme targets to achieve 175 GW as renewable energy by 2022, of which 100 GW is solar. Of the 100 GW solar energy, about 40 GW is from solar rooftops.