Odisha plans to make the coastal temple city a 100 percent solar city and place it among India’s first few cities or towns.

Every two years, Suman Haldar (68) and his wife Sunanda from West Bengal’s Midnapore district visit the world heritage site of the Sun Temple at Konark, in Odisha’s Puri district.

The couple, who visited Konark at the end of 2021 after the Covid-induced lockdown was relaxed, noticed some visible changes.

“We like the beauty and peaceful ambience of Konark. This year, the city has installed solar streetlights on major roads, drinking water kiosks and the guide told us that the Odisha government has planned to run the Sun Temple completely on solar energy,” said Suman.

Konark, which occupies a prominent place in India’s tourism map due to the Sun Temple, is going to be the first model town in Odisha to shift from grid dependency to green energy.

Although Odisha has a large deposit of power-grade thermal coal in Talcher and Ib valley, the state is keen to reduce dependency on conventional sources of power generation and shift towards renewable energy

The state targets to generate 2,200 MW from solar energy and a part of it will be utilised to run the Sun Temple and Konark town on solar energy.

Achieving Net Zero

Konark’s transition to renewable energy is part of an ambitious plan by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

The Rs 25-crore programme aims to ensure all energy needs of Konark Temple and Konark town are met by solar power. Another project is the Sun Temple at Modhera in Gujarat.

The work in Konark is being carried out with the active collaboration of the state government. The OREDA (Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency), a nodal agency of the Government of Odisha, which is executing the project, plans to transform Konark into a zero emission city by December 2022.

Ashok K Choudhury, deputy director of OREDA said, “We plant to make Konark into a 100 per cent solar town and also place it among India’s first few zero emission cities or towns, which means all energy needs of the city would be fulfilled only from renewable energy sources”. 

Most of the targeted installation of 300 kilowatt (KW) solar panels in and around Konark has been completed. This includes:

  1. 50 solar-powered streetlights
  2. 40 drinking water ATMs
  3. 20 battery-operated Vehicles with charging points
  4. A 50 KW solar power plant installed near the temple for illumination
  5. Rooftop solar panels on 12 government institutions, including schools, hospitals and offices

These solar power plants will meet Konark’s energy needs. “Once that is completed, there will be a significant change in Konark from grid-dependent to off-grid or solar,” said Paresh Parida, an employee of Aditi Solar, a company based in Hyderabad, the agency for all renewable energy installations. in Konark, it said.