First-ever tidal plant in Sunderbans in West Bengal

Sunderbansto have country's first tidal power plant

 
By Maureen Nandini Mitra
Published: Friday 30 June 2006

In harmony with nature west Bengal's 100-mega watt (mw) tidal power project, thefirst of its kind in the country, received clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests in the last week of April. The West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (wbreda) willimplement this Rs 40-crore pilot project in the Sunderbans area.

"This eco-friendly project will electrify severalSunderbans villages, benefiting about 200,000 people in thearea," says wbreda managing directorS P Gon Chaudhuri. Work on the project is slated to start later thisyear and will take three years to complete. Since the project will serve as a model for bigger plants in the country,the Union ministry of non-conventional energy will bear 90per cent of the cost, Chaudhuri said. Therest of the cost will be covered by thestate government.

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With a generation capacity of 3. 6 mw, the project willcomprise two barrages built across the upstream anddownstream ends of the Durgaduani creek, which runs between the islands of Gosabaand Bali-Bijayanagar and connects the Bidyadhari and Gomdirivers. A bypass canal built at the downstream end will have a powerhouse and sluice gates. The plant will runfor 14 hours a day (when the tide movesin or out). Electricity generated through an underwaterhorizontal axis turbine will be transmitted through a local grid to villages in Gosaba block.Currently, these villages are receiving eight hours of afterdark power supply daily from a local biomass plant.

Based on a renewable source of energy,tidal power projects are environmentally viable and economic. The simplestknown electricity generating system for tidal plants is the ebbgenerating system, which involves building a barrage acrossan estuary. Under the system, the sluice gates on the barrageallow the tidal basin to fill on the in-flowing high tides andthen to exit through the turbine system on the ebb tide.Though power is also generated from the inflowing tide inthe flood-generating systems, it is less favoured.

The only known environmental disadvantage of a tidal power plant is the effect a tidal station has on the local aquatic and shoreline ecosystems. The change in the water level and possible flooding could affect the local vegetation and birds and fish that feed on it.However, it's difficult to predict the exact ecological impact oftidal plants since every site is different and there are not many projects across the world available for comparison.

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