Because of adverse natural weather conditions and the impact of local farming practices, Stride has faced a number of operational challenges.
Regular crop residue burning by the farmers generates significant amounts of airborne ash at Stride’s Punjab site, reducing the air quality, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and the risk of onsite fire. Poor air quality compromised employee wellbeing while reducing sunlight penetration and caused ash to accumulate on solar modules, reducing power generation.
Cultural challenges around road safety have also been an issue, with greater awareness needed in the local community.
A multi-dimensional response has been pursued, embracing new technology and a renewed focus on community engagement and outreach.
The initiatives were instigated and overseen by the local management team and fully align with our joint emphasis on preventative action to minimise environmental impact, and our shared commitment to the safety of employees and the public. They demonstrate our ambition to make a positive contribution and to have a durable beneficial impact wherever we have investments.
The result has been better environmental and operational performance. Following consultation, an agreement was reached with local farmers to collect and donate crop residue as feedstock to a local biogas plant. This 2,700 tonnes of residue has saved approximately 4,700 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, improving the air quality and reducing the fire risk and frequency of cleaning of the solar modules.
Drones have been deployed to monitor arrays and detect module degradation or shading issues, generating results as much as ten times faster than manual methods and enabling a rapid response to any issues. This has maximised power output and eliminated a number of safety risks.
There has also been a marked improvement in safety. Weather reports are monitored and emergency notifications and updates communicated to all employees via email and SMS alerts. Extreme weather resilience plans and controls at each of the facilities have made sure that there were no employee injuries or major asset damage when cyclones Fani and Vayu struck during 2019, while ensuring continuity for the impacted communities that rely on Stride’s solar power. Emergency response training and audits have been carried out, with evacuation vehicles on standby during high-risk periods.
With road safety, a dedicated week involved members of the workforce and the public in awareness raising and training exercises designed to enhance pedestrian, occupational and vehicle road safety. This included getting involved in a national safety week campaign of training at several local schools and universities, focusing on first aid; road, fire and electrical safety; and COVID-19 awareness.