GEG ehf.’s CRO Has Been Actively Involved in Stakeholder Engagement in the Kinnaur District of Northern India, Ensuring That Our Commitment to Complete Social Sustainability is Upheld Throughout Our Geothermal Cooling Project
31 May 2022 — GEG ehf. has been excited to announce the success and ongoing progress of our efforts in India. At the end of March this year, our Chief Research Officer (CRO) Dr. Vijay Chauhan completed the on-site survey and exploratory work for the GEG geothermal cold storage project located within the Kinnaur district.
This project’s main aim is to provide a long-term storage solution for local apple farmers to increase food security in the region, and to reduce the reliance on larger industry players.
Throughout the early on-site work, Dr. Chauhan worked closely with community members and local workers, even conducting a workshop on the project prior to the start of any survey work. Participants included local graduate students, farmers whom the project will directly affect and involve, and leading professionals within the tourism industry.
Carrying this focus on stakeholder engagement, Dr. Chauhan also participated in an interview with one of the leading social activists and teachers in Kinnaur during the final days of his on-site work.
The interviewer, Mr. Rahul Kavil Kirti Negi, has amassed a strong sense of trust within the public and has garnered a good amount of support following his campaign on the environmental impact of hydroelectric power plant development in the area.
Interviewed alongside Dr. Chauhan was Mr. Rajeev Mehta, a local farmer and entrepreneur. Mr. Mehta has a high level of interest in and knowledge of renewable energy development, as he has a background in civil engineering and has been greatly involved in the growing tourism industry in Kinnaur. Mr. Mehta’s support of geothermal energy development in the region comes from his belief in its positive impacts overall.
Mr. Negi’s interview of Dr. Chauhan and Mr. Mehta primarily involved a discussion on the objective of geothermal energy development in the Kinnaur region, and its contribution to local economies – particularly within the agricultural sector. Dr. Chauhan explained how truly economical and environmentally sustainable development can be achieved by utilizing geothermal energy for direct use applications (ex: cooling, drying, and/or heating for homes).
The social sustainability of the development project increases in conjunction with how relevant these direct use applications are to the conditions and needs of the region. The interviewees also explain that there is a negligible land footprint with geothermal development as compared to that of the ongoing hydropower development in the region. Hydroelectric power development in Kinnaur has in fact been cause for significant environmental concerns among the local community.
Increased public awareness through workshops and interviews like Mr. Negi’s has greatly helped GEG build a greater sense of support and trust in this project’s development among local communities. The full posting of the video (not in English) is included here, where comments and opinions from the public can also be seen.
Development projects like the one in Northern India are only as successful as their degree of social responsibility. Without the inclusion of and involvement of the nearby affected community, a project cannot be deemed truly “sustainable” – despite its positive environmental or ecological benefits.
This is a dedication held by GEG ehf. and a practice we plan on applying to all of our other ongoing as well as future geothermal developments.