The Uttarakhand government has begun efforts to produce green energy from the leaves of pine trees or the pine needles. This is a bid to reduce their quantity in the jungles as they catch fire very quickly. (Business Standard)
For the past few years, forest fires have been creating havoc in the jungles of Uttarakhand. They have razed several hectares of land and even killing people and animals. Scientists say the main culprit behind the spread of such fires is pine needles which catch fire quickly. The locals call these pine needles as pirul.
According to a government estimate, chir pine trees cover 3,99,329 hectares of the total forest area. Therefore pine needles are found in abundance in the state.
Green energy capacity and tariff
As part of the move, the government has issued letters of award to 21 companies. These companies will set up new power plants to generate electricity using pirul. The total capacity will be around 675 KW power.
The Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited (UPCL), the state power distribution will sign separate power purchase agreements (PPAs) with these companies. The utility tariff for green energy is to buy power at Rs 7.54 per unit. One Chander Singh Bisht owner of Bhagirathi Chidh Vidyut Producer – is setting up the biggest pirul plant in Dunda block of Uttarkashi district with a capacity of 125 KW.
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat is taking a keen interest in power generation through pirul. The pine needles have the potential to generate revenue and create employment opportunities in the hills. Considering a widespread migration in hills the green energy plants will create local job opportunities. The state government has set a target to generate 1 MW by 2019, 5 MW by 2021 and 100 MW by 2030.
Green Energy from pine needles does not have an explicit classification under biomass category as renewable energy. But similar efforts are being undertaken elsewhere to generate green energy from pine needles.