Oorja teamed up with Ecozen Solutions launched solar-powered cold storage in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar
The unpredictable grid electricity in the rural areas of India made it worse for the small farmers to store their excess harvest. As a result every year 20 to 30 % of fresh produce is wasted incurring heavy losses and debts to the farmers. Thanks to an innovative cooling service provided by Oorja in association with Ecozen, solar-powered cold storage is installed in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.
‘Oonnayan’, the cooling service by Oorja Development Solutions helps small farmers to save their excess perishable fresh produce on a per- crate- per-day basis devoid of the technology acquisition cost. Ecozen has installed and commissioned the functioning and gave the training to operate the system. Oorja operates the system and takes care of farmer mobilization, customer acquisition, daily operations, repairs and maintenance, and payment collections for the service.
Though solar-powered cold storage is a solace to the farmers it is still a forbidden fruit for them due to its heavy initial investment. It comes around INR 12–15 lakh per unit for a 5 MT solar-powered cold storage. Clementine Chambon, Oorja Development Solutions co-founder and chief technology officer, says that though the government provides capital subsidies, only up to 35-50% are given to individual farmers. The farmers have to raise the remainder of the project costs, which is still hard for them. The solar-powered cold storage installed near the market gate lets the farmers store their produce for several days to a few weeks at a minimum price. This facility helps their fresh produce to remain fresh and fetch them a decent price rather than selling off hastily at lower prices immediately after the harvest.
The solar-powered cold storage works on a polycrystalline solar panel array of 5 kWp capacity installed on the roof of the structure. The power is stored using phase-change-material-based thermal energy storage and can provide a backup of 36 hours even on cloudy days. It can also switch to another alternative power supply, which is grid power. It takes only five to six hours to fully charge. The cold storage system can maintain an interior temperature of 4-13°C and high humidity up to 85-95%. The whole system can be operated remotely using an android app that even notifies you when maintenance is required.
- PRIYANKA IYER