From Gold to Green: Tirupati Temple Improving Carbon Footprint
India is a country with a population of over a billion people. The nation has ample necessity and opportunity to use more sustainable sources of energy. There are many places across the country where this is taking place. One very prominent and inspirational example is in Tirumala.
Tirupti in Andhra Pradesh is one of the country’s richest and most visited temples. The temple’s methods of using sustainable energy gives the temple an opportunity to assert more than just its religious influence on the people who visit and the environment around it.
The temple receives an annual income of $340 million and is visited by between 50,000 and 100,000 devotes every day. This influx of visitors provides a major strain on the various energy resources.
In order to combat this, the management has planted trees all around the temple. These trees serve as a carbon sink and provide an offset for the carbon dioxide generated by the visiting throngs.
The temple has a community kitchen that is open all day and provides free meals for the devotees. Besides vegetables, 50,000 kg of rice and lentils are cooked here every day. There are 106 solar panels placed strategically on the roof tops, which move regularly to ensure that they capture the maximum amount of solar energy during the day. This energy is used to convert water into high pressure steam, which cooks the food in the kitchen below.
These dishes generate over 4,000 kilograms of steam a day at 180º C. This greatly makes cooking both energy and cost efficient. The chefs say that it takes less than 20 minutes to cook an entire meal. These solar dishes help save an average of 500 liters of diesel fuel each day.
Besides solar energy the temple also taps into wind energy. Located atop a hill the temple is positioned in a great location to use the wind. Various energy companies have donated a series of wind farms which fulfill almost 50% of the energy needs of the temple.
Water and Waste
The temple also recycles its water, the recycled water is used to water the gardens round the temple. In addition, The temple has also decided to ban the use of plastic bags and now uses biodegradable bags. It has signed a contract with Biotech company, which supply’s Tirupati with 2,500,000 biodegradable bags every month.
By switching to green technologies, the temple cuts its carbon emissions and earns a carbon offset, or credit, which the management can sell. The temple now has an additional source of income. The temple management is aware that today’s donors are very progressive and also want to see results. This provided an additional incentive for the temple to go green and visibly show the people who visit the temple how they have done so. “This was the first project to get a gold standard certification – it’s a registered project and it is issuing carbon credit.”
India currently uses fossil fuels as its major source of energy. Global consultancy McKinsey predicts that the country’s carbon emissions will double in the next ten years. As India is taking steps to limit its emissions, it’s also one of the largest producers of carbon credits in the world. According to a 2010 study by HSBC Research, India’s share of the $2.2 trillion market for low carbon goods and services in 2020 could be as much as $135bn. The report further predicts that India’s clean technology market could create 10.5m green jobs, and is likely to grow faster than any other country. This is a small step in the right direction and the entire country has miles to go before it is clean and green.[Image 1 Attribute: BBC News] [Main Image Attribute: vimal_kalyan via Compfight cc]