Green energy is literally going ‘green’ as Uttarakhand government plans to produce power from pine needles! Letters of Award has been issued to 21 companies, which may be able to produce a combined 675 kW of electricity.
So far, these companies have signed 12 agreements with Uttarakhand Power Corporation, the state’s electricity distribution firm. Separate agreements will be signed for the government to buy each unit of electricity at ₹7.54, said Chander Singh Bisht of Bhagirathi Chidh Vidyut Producer. The company is constructing the biggest power plant in this regard in the Dunda block of the hill state with a capacity to generate 125 kW.
Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat is known to show a keen interest in the project as he believes that the creation of power plants will create additional jobs and revenue. The hills, for a long time, have been facing a problem of outward migration of inhabitants in search of a better future in the cities.
However, the primary factor to have prompted such a move is the menace of forest fires. In 2016, as forest fires raged in the state’s hills, they destroyed over 2,200 hectares of woods and claimed five lives; helicopters with water cannons had to be roped in to contain the flames. As per scientists, pine needles, which catch fire easily, are the main culprit behind these mishaps. The state government estimates that around 399,329 hectares or 16.4% of the total forests in Uttarakhand’s hills are covered by chir pine (Pinus roxburghii). So, the main idea behind producing electricity from pine needles is to check their spread in the forests and ultimately ensure that the forest fires wreck less of a havoc.