Kochi: The Glendale tea factory in Coonoor, a hill station near Ootacamund in Tamil Nadu, has dusted off a decade-old solar heating system to revive an energy conservation drive in the region.
Glenworth Estate Ltd, which bought the factory from the Kothari Group about two years ago, expects to save significantly by cutting its firewood expenses by at least 10-15%.
“An old version of a solar heater had been installed way back in 1996 but had been in disuse for long,” said K. Gopal Krishna, director of the estate. “The whole structure was revamped and the improved version put in place.” It will help the unit reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 111.78 tonnes a year, he added.
The Glendale factory is a pilot project, said R.D. Nazeem, executive director of the Tea Board of India, a government trade promotion body that is backing the drive with its technology informatics design endeavour, or TIDE, project.
Any step by tea factories towards energy conservation will be treated as quality upgradation and qualify for financial assistance under the TIDE programme, Nazeem said.
Glendale’s recourse to green technology is also driven by necessity. Typically, a factory uses 1.2kg of firewood to make 1kg of tea dust, but wood supply is becoming tighter because of rising awareness against felling as well as decreasing green cover. Firewood prices have, as a result, surged to Rs2,400 a tonne from about Rs1,800 a year ago.
Glendale, with annual production of 1.5 million kg of tea dust, requires about 1,800 tonnes of firewood a year.
Some Coonoor tea factories had solar heating, but stopped using them because of poor quality and lack of proper maintenance services.
The new version, which cost Glendale about Rs5 lakh over the initial investment of Rs10 lakh in 1996, is expected to last at least 15 years.