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Bengali ahead in rooftop solar panels  

KOLKATA: West Bengal seems to have emerged as the leading force in eastern India in the development of rooftop solar energy. For, its response has been the best among all eastern states to a project involving the installation of rooftop solar panels, which is part of the national solar mission.

A total of 53 companies have responded to an expression of interest floated by West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation (WBGEDC) a few weeks ago to install rooftop solar panels. "West Bengal has received the highest number of applications among all the states of eastern India. This is indeed a very positive and encouraging development. Among the companies that have shown interest is Wipro, which wants to install rooftop solar panels on its Salt Lake campus," said WBGEDC managing director S P Gon Chaudhuri.

WBGEDC will select a few companies from the 53 applicants and give them pre-registration, with which they will apply to the Centre. "The companies will have to install panels that will generate solar power in the range of 100 KW to 2 MW. The selected companies will have to generate a total of 20 MW of solar energy," said Gon Chaudhuri.

WBGEDC is also trying to invite schools and colleges in the city to install solar panels and buy smart meters, which measure power generation. Earlier, Gurudas College became the first institution in eastern India to directly feed the grid with solar power generated by panels installed on its roof. "We hope to get a good response from the city's educational institutions in this regard," said Gon Chaudhuri.

The idea behind the introduction of rooftop solar energy is to bring down the consumption of electricity. "Once the solar panels are installed, the energy produced by the rooftop panels will be fed directly into the CESC grid. The smart meters we are planning to bring will help measure how much solar power is being generated and put into the grid," said Gon Chaudhuri.

Of the target generation of 115 MW of solar power by March 2013, the state government was expecting to produce 5 MW through rooftop panels. Now, the state looks set to cross that mark.

WBGEDC and the state pollution control board are already working on framing norms for developers of high-rises to mandatorily install solar panels. Once the rules come into effect, the use of solar power will increase manifold, it is hoped.

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