Values and InstitutionsEnvironment & NatureThe Solar Initiative: Dawoodi Bohra Centres Across India Move Towards Sustainability

The Solar Initiative: Dawoodi Bohra Centres Across India Move Towards Sustainability

The year 2021 witnessed increased abnormal weather phenomena and rising global temperatures. Last autumn, environmentalists and world leaders converged at COP26 to discuss and pledge greater responsibility to combat the climate emergency. A big part of the solution lies in decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels and increasing investment in renewable sources of energy. 

An article on the United Nations website states: ‘Cheap electricity from renewable sources could provide 65 percent of the world’s total electricity supply by 2030. It could decarbonize 90 percent of the power sector by 2050, massively cutting carbon emissions and helping to mitigate climate change’. 

India’s target to achieve net zero emissions by 2070 has been called ambitious, yet achievable if the country builds the capacity to harness and scale up the intervention of renewable sources of energy. The Government of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy website explains the role of solar energy, stating: ‘solar energy has taken a central place in India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change with the National Solar Mission as one of the key missions. The mission targets installing 100 GW grid-connected solar power plants by the year 2022. This is in line with India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) target to achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources and to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent from 2005 level by 2030.’

Reducing the impact of climate change requires both individual and collective efforts. In order to mitigate the climate crisis, Dawoodi Bohra community centres across India have galvanised their plans to install solar energy systems. Over the past year, more than 40 centres have submitted their applications to Burhani Foundation, the Dawoodi Bohra community’s environmental awareness and research arm, which assesses each application and subsequently provides expert assistance and tailored solutions to each centre. As a result of its efforts, 17 community centres have successfully installed solar arrays on their rooftops. 

Burhani Foundation held a webinar on the 12th of June 2021 with representatives of these community centres to discuss the benefits of introducing and sustaining a solar power intervention programme. The webinar was followed up by site visits to gauge the feasibility of the programme in terms of location, budget and capacity.

Out of the 17 centres, the first three installations at Surendranagar, Palitana and Khamgaon have yielded positive outcomes with a cumulative carbon offset of 40 tonnes over the span of 6-12 months. To put this in an environmental context would be equivalent to planting 90 trees. 

Burhanuddin Hamid, President of the Khamgaon community said, ‘At first, we were sceptical as we thought the project might be cumbersome, however, the entire process went by very smoothly. In terms of environmental action, this project has made us realise that ‘action speaks louder than words’. Hopefully this will be followed up with other important environmental causes” he continued. 

‘This programme has two-fold benefits for us; it puts us on the path towards green energy, and helps subsidise our electricity costs which reduces a considerable amount of our financial obligation,’ said Yahya Aliasger, President of the Palitana community, where a 4KW system has been installed.  

Burhani Foundation was established in 1991 by the late Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin for environmental awareness and research. The foundation endeavours to make a significant and positive impact in environmental conservation and sustainability. Renewable Energy is one of its key focus areas among others including; water conservation, green cover, zero waste/sustainability and cleanliness.