‘Power through windmills more suited for Uttarakhand
When the saints and devotees of Ganga have launched a crusade for uninterrupted flow of Ganga, demanding immediate stopping of hydroelectric projects (HEPs) in Uttarakhand, the supporters HEPs are also raising voice citing development based on these projects.
Hundreds of Ganga warriors left for New Delhi from Varanasi on Thursday. More groups would go to Delhi from different parts of the country to hold a rally at Jantar Mantar on June 18 in support of their demands. At the same time the supporters of hydropower projects will also assemble in New Delhi on June 17.
“It is not a good sign. Opposition or support is not the solution of a problem that could be solved scientifically. I am not in favour of damming the river for electricity generation, but being a scientist I would suggest scientific alternative instead of opting for a warpath,” said Prof BD Tripathi, noted environmental scientist at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and expert member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
“The high wind speed in the Uttarakhand due to low-pressure belt creates suitable environment for the production of electricity through windmills. The use of windmills may mitigate the negative impact of the anthropogenic activities in these areas,” Tripathi said while talking TOI. According to him, promotion of windmills for generation of electricity in Uttarakhand in place of hydropower projects, which require huge land area and water, shall help in maintenance of the ecological flow of Ganga, which is currently a burning issue and the main objective of NGRBA. “I have also written to the Prime Minister, who is the chairperson of NGRBA, and the chief minister of Uttarakhand, suggesting promotion of windmills,” he said.
It may be mentioned here that June 15 is celebrated worldwide as Global Wind Day. It is a day for discovering wind, its power and the possibilities it holds to change the world. In more than 75 countries around the world, wind farms are in operation, generating energy from a clean and renewable source. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) coordinate the Global Wind Day through a network of partners. Coincidentally, the ‘Rio Earth Summit’ is also going to be held from June 20 to 22 and the world leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will converge in Brazil. The gathering is being billed as a landmark event for the planet’s future and the theme of the conference is ‘building the global green economy’.
“We need energy for development but it should not be at the cost of environment,” said Tripathi, who was recently on a 17-day intensive Ganga Yatra in Uttarakhand on a field-based ecological study in May. During his yatra, he visited Ganga, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Mandakini, Pindar, Dhauli Ganga, Nandakani, Sone Ganga, Yamuna and other places. He also visited different dams and hydroelectric projects to study anthropogenic activities and impact on Ganga. The main objective of his study was to identify anthropogenically induced ecological problems of Ganga in Uttarakhand and suggest remedial measures to overcome the problems of the river and its important head streams.
“A large number of hydroelectric power projects have been commissioned and proposed on Ganga and Alaknanda. These power projects are not only causing submersion of large land area, which results in loss of flora and fauna, but also altering natural rhythm of nature, sediment and nutrient regimes, temperature, chemical qualities of water, fresh water biodiversity and reproductive capabilities of aquatic animals. This also creates high hydraulic pressure at a given point of earth, which may stimulate earthquake and landslides,” observed Tripathi.
According to him, construction of dams causes huge destruction of mountain ecosystem including reduction in the natural flow and dilution capacity of the river resulting enhancement of the pollution. Natural flow of majority of rivers has been obstructed and at many places main paths of these rivers have been diverted through the tunnels due to which the river had dried in long stretches. The diversion of rivers had also created various socio-economic and religious problems to the local inhabitants. Their local resource based livelihood (such as agriculture, domestication of animals and religious activities) suffer significantly, enhancing unemployment and poverty.
“In such a situation, it would be wise to encourage wind energy, instead of ravaging the nature. The tunnel technology applied in power generation is spoiling the basic use of river,” said Tripathi, adding that Uttrakhand had great potential of wind energy and there was no risk involved in it. However, the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA) is in progress of installing a 2.4 mw Grid Interactive Wind Power Generation Project at Bacheli Khal in Tehri Garhwal. It will be the first wind power generation project of Uttarakhand.
According to the report of the Centre for Wind Energy Technology, an autonomous research and development institution under the ministry of New and Renewable Energy, growing concern for the environmental degradation has led to the world’s interest in renewable energy resources. Wind is commercially and operationally the most viable renewable energy resource and accordingly, emerging as one of the largest source in terms of renewable energy sector.
According to another report of Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), India had a record year for new wind energy installations in 2010, with 2,139 mw of new capacity added to reach a total of 13,065 mw at the end of the year. Renewable energy is now 10.9% of installed capacity, contributing about 4.13% to the electricity generation mix and wind power accounts for 70% of this installed capacity. The states with highest wind power concentration are Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.