Kerala’s State-run Dairies Opt for Solar to Save on Power Bills

The 2 MW solar plant at Ernakulam dairy will be a role model


Milma, the state government-run cooperative dairy plant in Ernakulam, Kerala, has installed a 2 MW captive solar project. The new installation has helped reduce the power bills from ₹4 million (~$50,471) to ₹1.5 million (~$18,926) every two months.

The solar plant is supported by a long-term loan of ₹115 million (~$1.45 million) from the National Dairy Development Board with subsidized interest rates. The initiative will soon be adopted by 14 other major dairy plants across Kerala in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and make the plants cost-effective.

Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (KCMMF) aims to adopt solar for operating all the plants and milk processing units. “Reducing the electricity bills to one-third of what is being spent now is on top of our minds. With the support of the National Dairy Development Board and ANERT, this can be accomplished sooner,” Mohanan, Energy transition consultant, KCMMF, Thiruvananthapuram, told Mercom.

ANERT (Agency for Renewable Energy Research and Technology) works with the Ministry of Power in Kerala.

The dairies are located in Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Kattapana, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Kannur, Thrissur, Kollam, Kozhikode, Malayora, Palakkad, Wayanad, and Kasargod. The dairies procure milk from a network of over 3,000 primary co-operatives and about a million dairy farmers affiliated with them. The annual turnover of these cooperatives is over ₹30 billion (~$378.07 million).

“The availability of financial support with a lower interest rate and the installation support from ANERT make things easier for us,” says the manager at the Ernakulam dairy plant, where the solar project installation work is underway.

The dairy sector is energy-intensive, with the daily collection and storage of milk and milk products, and operates on both heat and electricity. “The fully solar-powered dairy in Ernakulam will be a great model, to begin with,” Union minister of state for animal husbandry and dairy development L. Murugan tweeted recently.

The beginning made at Ernakulam in Kerala will have many lessons in decarbonization for dairies across the country.

Earlier this month, Banaskantha District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union (Banas Dairy) invited bids for the design, manufacture, supply, installation, and commissioning of a 1 MW rooftop solar system at its facility in the Sanadar village of Gujarat on a turnkey basis.

Mercom recently reported that the switch to solar has helped halve the electricity bills for cold storage units over time, making food storage more efficient and cost-effective.