Swedes go green in India

DELHI -- The Swedish embassy is first in India to carry out an ambitious plan of generating solar energy and harvesting rain water to check its carbon and ecological footprint.
Written by Betwa Sharma, Correspondent

DELHI -- On a warm winter afternoon, officials at the Swedish embassy unveiled a 600 square meters solar panel system, which will generate approximately 10 percent of its total energy consumption.

This is the first significant step to combat global warming taken by the embassy of any country in the national capital. At the inauguration on Thursday, Sweden's Ambassador Lars-Olof Lindgren joked that it was about time that the embassies had a "healthy competition" on going green.

The 288 panels presently generates 17.487 KW of power with a total capacity of 75KW per hour on a clear day.  The panel has generated 2998 KW since it started a month ago. The system has, so far, avoided 1499 kg of CO2 emissions.

Per-Erik Ekman, who manages the Embassy property, said that the only labor required was to clean the panels once a week. The panel cost about $420,000 and the embassy will save approximately $14,000 on its annual electric bill.

Considering that the European Union and India were at logger heads during the U.N. climate talks in Durban, the initiative by the Swedes is a welcome step for both countries. Farooq Abdullah, Minister for Renewable Energy, agreed that it was sometimes nice to have a non-politicized initiative. "We must find ways to bring countries together," he told SmartPlanet.

The Swedish embassy in India plans to generate one-third of its power needs from renewable energy sources in 2012. The Swedes have set a worldwide target of a 26 percent reduction of total energy consumption in Swedish properties around the globe.

Besides solar, the embassy is also engaging in water harvesting. Officials here say that water harvesting today amounts to 5000 cubic meters annually, which prevents depletion of groundwater level in the area. The target is to reach a positive water-balance (consume less than what is collected and recharged) by 2013.

Ambassador Lindgren noted that the solar panel was a small effort in the global fight against climate change. But he wrapped up by quoting Mahatma Gandhi--"Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it."

PHOTO-- Betwa Sharma

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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