A 100 KWP Off-Grid Solar Power Plant, commissioned in March 2011 at Gates Institute of Technology, Andhra Pradesh is considered to be one of the successful largest private sector projects in Southern India.
Nearly four years back, when other educational institutes were still hooked up with the conventional systems and ailing with power cuts and irregular supply of electricity, the smarter ones were planning for non-conventional methods like harnessing solar power. One such institute was Gates Institute of Technology (GIT) in Anantapuramu district of Andhra Pradesh. A 100 KWP Off-Grid Solar Power Plant was commissioned in March 2011 at the institute and is considered to be one of the successful largest private sector projects in Southern India till date. The company which made this possible was of course Su-Kam.
Why Did The Institute Go Solar?
The institute was facing long power cuts, irregular supply and failures for quite some time. Further, since the institute was operating on diesel generators, the recurring cost was also coming to be very high. In addition, the diesel fuel consumption remained high despite reduction in load as per the requirement. All this prompted the authorities of GIT to take up the alternate route of generating electricity i.e., harnessing solar power for satiating their energy needs.
Dr B Gavaskar Reddy, Professor and HOD – Electrical & Electronics Engineering, GIT, notes, “With the existing Indian educational infrastructure being solely dependent on conventional energy sources, the institutes have to often bear high electricity bills and maintenance cost. Not only the bills are higher and greener footprint is less, the issue of irregular supply of electricity and power cut are also disturbing. Hence, what is required is a shift to more conventional sources of energy like solar power to meet this ever rising energy requirement and in doing so, companies like Su-Kam can offer the best solutions.”
He adds further, “Our aim was also to move towards green power and hence we signed an MOU with Su-Kam in 2011 for this project and since then, we have not faced any difficulty.” It is maintained and looked after by the Vijaywada branch of Su-Kam.
- The one-of-its-kind in-house solar power plant by Su-Kam is 100 KW bidirectional rooftop solar power plant.
- The system feeds solar power directly to the load during college hours (from 9 am to 4 pm) as per the availability of the sun. The remaining solar power charges the batteries to give backup to power the lighting load in the evening hours.
- There are 435 solar panels of 250 watt each.
- When sunlight falls on solar panels, they generate DC electricity which goes through an iron box to the inverters where the actual processing takes place. The inverters transform the DC electricity to AC power to run the load.
- There are inbuilt 8 photo-voltaic charge controllers of 30 ampere 360 volt and 2volt batteries of 500 ampere-hour in the off grid solar power plant.
- Since 2011, the plant has been running solely on solar power with zero dependence on the electricity grid.
- Nearly 1,50,000 units of electricity is generated annually by the solar power plant
The whole solar power plant system occupies nearly 1 acre of land.
Maintenance is easy too
In the whole solar panel system, only the panels need maintenance and that too is an easy process. As per the engineers from Vijaywada branch of Su-Kam, the panels need to be washed with distilled water after every 5-6 months and rest is all good.
Commenting on the maintenance of the system, a fully satisfied Reddy says, “It is very easy to maintain the system and we have not faced any problem since 2011 and what more… If there is any issue, the Su-Kam people resolve it within 48 hours or may be less.”
Reddy notes, “Despite the high installation cost i.e., Rs 2.6 crores, today, the institute is reaping the benefit of huge Return on Investments (ROI). Earlier, the institute was spending nearly Rs 2-2.5 lakhs per annum on the electricity bills as well as on the maintenance of the diesel generators. However, now this amount is considerably reduced to nearly Rs 50,000-60,000 per annum. In addition, the battery back-up is also excellent. During rainy season or night, it is 6-7 hours.” Further, the college is able to prevent the emission of 60 tons of carbon dioxide per annum.
Thus, overall, the installation of the solar plant has helped the institute in lowering its operational cost to a very large extent. It has also enabled the institute to put forth its greener footprint and excel in not only education sector but environment sector as well.
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– Article by Avani Jain for Su-Kam