Government plans to use solar energy to power cold-chain facilities: Report

The government’s decision to tap into using solar energy for electricity generation is expected to fast track the COVID-19 immunisation drive, as well as reform the way all vaccines are stored in the country.

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The Indian government is striving to put its solar energy programme to use to supply undisrupted power to cold-chain facilities, which have been used increasingly to store COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic.

A senior health ministry official commented that “There are over 29,000 cold chain storage facilities across India that are used to store both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 vaccines. Solar power usage is not new for storing vaccines in India, but the push is largely after COVID-19. We are expanding solar power to more cold chain points for vaccine storage. We have started using newer technology like solar direct-drive cold chain equipment,”

“Earlier, all the equipment was imported but after the government’s Make-in-India push, Godrej for the first time manufactured an indigenous freezer using solar energy that is being used in several states and we are expanding to all parts of the country. We are distributing the equipment which will maintain the required temperature for vaccines at 2-8 degrees Celsius,” he further added. 

According to the health official, more than 350 pieces of imported solar equipment were provided across India in the last five years. 

Among all sources of renewable energy, solar energy, which has abundant untapped potential in India, is estimated to be especially helpful in supply uninterrupted electricity to the more remote parts of the country where traditional sources of energy fall short. Keeping this in mind, the government intends to have 175 GW of renewable energy capacity,100GW out of which will be solar power generation capacity by 2022, with a significant focus on rooftop solar and decentralised solar installations.

The government’s decision to tap into using solar energy for electricity generation is expected to fast track the COVID-19 immunisation drive, as well as reform the way all vaccines are stored in the country. 

“With the COVID-19 vaccinations being done at a much larger scale, we recently did a gap analysis of cold chains and decided to further strengthen the vaccine storage systems. There are two ways of using solar energy for vaccine storage. One, either the storage equipment runs on solar energy, or the building having the facility uses solar energy for electricity. In the unreliable electricity supply areas, we have electricity storage facility usage and other backups so that there is no chance of vaccines being spoilt,” he said.