A few months ago, my wife and I were invited to a beautiful resort in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala called Niraamaya Retreats. While we loved the beautiful resort, its people, the food, the biggest attraction was its location – by the sea. Thiruvananthapuram is on the west coast, near the southern tip of mainland India, and is bounded by Laccadive Sea to its west and the Western Ghats to its east. The sea here is dangerous to swim, rough, busy, noisy and full of energy all the time. Through the day and night we can hear the soothing rhythmic sound of the sea, angry sometimes, guffawing with laughter sometimes, and most of all, full of benevolent energy all the time.
As my wife and I sat on the porch with a glass of wine I thought, why does not this resort and all the other resorts on this coast harness this benevolence of nature, instead of burning diesel to provide electricity. What if all the resorts here install tidal energy generation plants, use the electricity for their operations, and also supply electricity to the residents in their neighbourhood. Would not that be the best blend of commerce, tourism and service to the society?
Today this is possible, as tidal energy technology has developed rapidly. The world’s first large-scale tidal stream energy farm is going live in the north coast of Scotland. As part of phase 1, a giant dynamo – the first of four to be deployed in the waters, is being deployed as part of the MeyGen tidal stream project.
Tidal stream generators work similarly to wind turbines, but instead of air currents they draw energy from waves. Standing 49 ft tall, with 52 ft blades, weighing around 220 tonnes, each turbine has a 1.5 megawatt (MW) capacity. The project aims to install 269 turbines in hopes of having a capacity of 398 MW, enough to power 175,000 homes. “I am incredibly proud of Scotland’s role in leading the way in tackling climate change and investment in marine renewables is a hugely important part of this,” said first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Chief executive of Atlantis Resources, the company deploying the technology Tim Cornelius said: “Today marks a historic milestone not just for Atlantis and our project partners, but for the entire global tidal power industry.” Scotland has 25% of the EU’s offshore wind and tidal power potential, and is increasingly setting an example as a world leader in tidal energy innovation, and has continuously been at the forefront of efforts to tackle climate change, in spite of its large oil and gas industry.
Wave and tidal power have the potential to provide clean energy to power hungry countries like India. It is clean, free and with the long coastline, its potential is immense. India, which has the qualities of becoming a super power, needs to take a leadership stance by deploying cutting edge renewable energy technologies like tidal power.
Having said that, I believe strongly the private sector, which has more energy, innovation capabilities, risk taking appetite, should lead the way and plunge into the sea of new renewable energy projects, especially if it has the locational advantages. Profitable businesses need to take on the responsibility of exploring new avenues which support the national agenda. When they do that, they take on a leadership role which is much bigger a stance that supports the profits that they need to generate for their promoters.
I can talk about this with courage and conviction, as Our Native Village, my small resort in Bangalore took the leadership stance a decade ago, and plunged into renewable energy in a major way, and set a standard for resorts in the country. The challenge now is to motivate others to set their own standards, because it is now technically possible, commercially viable, of great value for guests & the community, and most importantly the right thing to do.
While it is said that time and tide waits for no man, in Scotland, the tides are waiting for man to harness its benevolent energy, and they have risen up to this challenge. Will Thiruvananthapuram, like the other spots along the coastlines of the world find the head and the heart to to accept this benevolence?
The tides are waiting….
CB Ramkumar is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, Founder & Managing Director of Green Dreams for the Planet – An Environmental Awakening & Sustainability Action Enterprise. He can reached at the following address http://www.cbramkumar.com