A tea manufacturing factory has a lot of heavy machinery which consumes a lot of power. Upon investigating we found that in our area we face a lot of power cuts (Approximately 28%). This requires us to rely on the generator for power which means high diesel cost.
More than the monetary cost, the impact on the environment due to the fumes emitted is far worse. Also, within the tea estate it is not easy to run electric lines to be able to provide electricity to power street lights to ensure something as simple as the workers get a safe passage home after dark.
DESIGN OF THE INTERACTION
Our aim was to reduce our use of diesel to begin with & eventually try & find a sustainable solution to the current electricity set up. Not an innovation but the obvious choice was to turn to solar energy as the alternate source of energy
Phase one is seeing the replacement of existing lights running on electricity by initiating the installation of Solar Street Lights to the labour line roads. This is a continuous process with new solar lights being installed in various sections of the Estate & ofcourse the repairing and / or replacing of damaged ones.
The next phase would be to provide solar power within the plantation area as well as to the staff residences.
The ultimate goal is to be able to run the entire tea factory on solar energy & eliminate the use of generators completely.
By 2020, our aim is to ensure that all electricity used in our factory is fully replaced by solar energy.
Furthermore, we have a tourism project for which we are building a hotel. We will ensure that the hotel too is run on solar power.
IMPACTThe installation of solar panels along the labour lines have received a direct favourable outcome & the workers are able to safely manoeuvre through the estate with much more confidence & independence. The indirect impact of this initiative was the workers feeling appreciated & their needs looked after. By 2020, our aim is to ensure that all electricity used in our factory is fully replaced by solar energy. Furthermore, we have a tourism project for which we are building a hotel. We will ensure that the hotel too is run on solar power.
VALIDATIONAlthough in a very small way but it is clear to see that the power consumption has reduced ever since we installed the solar lights in the various locations. There has also been an impact on the amount of diesel spent in running the generator during power outages. We aim for the installation of more of these solar lights to have more of a significant impact on the overall power & diesel consumption.
HURDLES TO SUCCESSThe biggest hurdles we face in a project of this nature and magnitude is to make available the funds to be able to finance such an operation. This will require a very heavy investment & the results will only show much later and hence it is not easy to convince stake holders & other investors to come on board
COLLABORATIONAn Indian Solar Company – “Fourth Partner” is one we approached for providing us with & installing Solar Panels. We have shared our annual energy consumption for them to study & formulate a plan & determine the requirements as per our power consumption. They have agreed to partner with us & invest in the panels themselves. However, for the project to be viable they will need the requirement to be 4 times the size of our Tea Estate.
TRANSPARENCYThe fact that the solar lights are installed is very evident when one visits the tea estate. We also have periodical audits from various agencies who always make it a point to check up on the solar light project too. The motivation behind all the initiatives taken by us is to be sustainable not just as a business but also as a planet and this can only be achieved by sharing information we all have so that we can all combine our efforts to be able to make an impact on a global scale.
TRANSFERABILITYSolar panels are a sustainable & very widely accepted substitute for electricity & other energy sources. The company “Fourth Partners” who showed interest needed a higher requirement & hence we approached our neighbouring tea estates who have agreed to come on board with us as this is at almost no investment to them. This initiative is not an innovation. It is very popular option & can be easily replicated by other tea estates & other industries fairly easily. The project mentioned in this presentation impacts the following SDGs :
- Affordably & Clean Energy
- Sustainable Cities & Communities
- Climate Action
- Life on Land
- Partnership for goals