Assam Considers Setting Up Solar Plants in Tea Estates & Factories

Assam tea industry is looking at various ways and means to set up solar projects in the plantation areas and in the barren lands available inside the estates.

An interactive meet titled “Opportunities of solar power plants in tea estates and tea factories” was organised on Friday at the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre premises.

At the meet, the Managing Director of Assam Power Distribution Company, Rakesh Kumar, urged the tea industry representatives to give suggestions on the ‘Draft Assam Renewable Energy Policy, 2022’.

The New and Renewable Energy (NRE) wing of the APDCL elaborated on several modes of execution of solar projects in the tea industry – rooftop solar power plant, setting up of solar power plant by leasing out uncultivated barren tea land, captive solar power plant and setting up solar parks by way of leasing out land to the power distribution company APDCL.

“Already APDCL has issued vendor registration to 15 tea estates for installation of rooftop solar power plants,” North Eastern Tea Association said in a note.

Several solar companies such as Tata Power, KSL (official channel partner of Adani Power), Roofsol, Firstgreen and AVCO, besides financial institutions SIDBI and PNB made their presentations at the meet.

“Solar projects can be a game changer for the tea industry. We can use barren uncultivated land for solar power projects which could generate revenue to tea companies. We also have a factory roof for installation of solar panels.”

Tea industry is seasonal in nature and therefore power consumption is not the same throughout the year, which essentially means that it can be sold to other units.

“There are some more issues and therefore we will seek the government’s guidance on how to tackle those issues so that it results in a win-win situation for the tea industry and the state,” the statement said quoting Bidyananda Barkakoty, Adviser at North Eastern Tea Association (NETA).

Last week, the tea gardens of Tripura, Assam’s neighbour, came into prominence as the state’s Tea Development Corporation announced its plans convert its coal-based tea factories into green energy-based facilities, aiming to cut down the cost of manufacturing tea.

The tea body attributed the planned shift from coal to natural gas in tea production to the skyrocketing prices of coal and unavailability of the fossil fuel in crucial times of dire necessity.

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