NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
Dr. Malini V Shankar ( IAS ), DG Shipping : Solar Power in Shipping
By Sea and Coast | 11/12/2018

India constitutes of about 17.5% of world’s total population over 2.4% of total surface. It has a large land mass and long coastline, and more importantly has an abundant source of sunlight. The potential of India to use solar energy is recognized to be of a very high order and yet it is the most underutilized source of energy.

India’s INDC commitment in the Paris Conclave on Climate Change was to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 33 – 35% by 2030 over 2005 levels. India has set itself a target of installing   175 GW of renewable energy capacity by the year 2022, including 60 GW of large and medium-scale grid connected solar power projects, and 40 GW of solar rooftop projects. The President of European Investment Bank Mr. Werner Hoyer has announced major support to India's International Solar Alliance (ISA).

Over the years, thanks to intensive research and considerable investment in infrastructure, the cost of generating solar power has reduced tremendously, and has almost attained parity with cost of generating traditional thermal power.

There have been several encouraging initiatives in the application of solar generated electricity across a spectrum of industries in India. The Cochin airport runs its non-aviation operations completely on solar power and is the only airport globally to do so. Solar panels are being installed on experimental basis on train coach roof tops and over water canals with the objective of generating solar power. Solar powered passenger ships are playing on the backwaters of Kerala.

On its part, the shipping industry has witnessed vibrant debates on green shipping. The International Maritime Organization has given a fillip to the greening of ships through its commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by 2030 by 30% compared to 2008-2009 levels.

We are moving into an era of autonomous ships and artificial intelligence in the arena of sea going ships. Yet we pay little attention to the pollution caused by ships and boats that ply on our coastal and inland waters. Adulterated and cheap fuel combined with weak enforcement of regulations pollute the air and water of habitations alongside these waters and cause a health hazard to the local population.

It is the need of the hour to take advantage of the developments in solar power and focus our efforts on innovative solutions for green coastal and inland shipping, and solar power offers an alternative. The subsidies currently being given for diesel fuel used in fishing boats can be replaced by incentives for use of solar energy. Financial cost-benefit analysis needs to be replaced by socio economic and environmental cost benefit analysis. The Directorate of Shipping has advised the IRS to study the technological options and financial viability of solarisation of small coastal ships (cargo and passenger) and fishing boats.

Our strength lies in potential volumes generated by a long coastline. Pragmatic models – both land-based solar farms and roof-top based solar boats  - can be developed to incentivize adoption of green energy in water transport. Stakeholders need to collaborate towards workable solutions. It is a sine qua non for guaranteeing healthy solutions for the population.