Sandy tracts of land turn green pastures for Vellore Corpn.

Solar panels installed along the Palar helps the civic body save ₹24 lakh a day

Large tracts of land along the Palar in Katpadi near Vellore, which were once grazing fields, now house thousands of solar panels that generate clean energy for Vellore Corporation. They were became operational about a fortnight ago.

“Once the pay back period of five years ends, the revenue generated from the solar power can be utilised for various welfare works in the city,” said P. Ashok Kumar, Commissioner of Vellore City Corporation.

Every day, on an average, the solar panels generate 11,000 units of energy. This is transferred to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) substations. In return, the electricity bills of high-tension connections of the civic body which run its water treatment plants, pumping stations and two gas-based crematoriums with are off-set. Thus, the civic body saves ₹24 lakh every day, which it otherwise would have had to pay the power utility.

The ₹10.40-crore was taken up under the Smart Mission Project in 2018 to tap renewable energy along the river in Vellore.

A total of 7,400 solar panels were installed on the sandy tracts of land along the river with a maximum capacity to generate 2.4 MW of power. At present, only 50% of the capacity is being generated every day. Subsequently, the officials said, power generation would be scaled up as maximum sunlight would be available for more hours, especially during summer.

The Corporation officials said that unlike some of the second tier cities such as Coimbatore where bright sunlight was available only for a certain number of months in a year, Vellore is blessed with clear skies throughout the year, except during the peak of northeast monsoon between October and December. This helps the civic body tap the maximum clean energy under the project.

In the coming months, the Corporation plans to install solar panels on the rooftop of its building on Infantry Road to generate 40 kVA of solar power. Such a measure would save the civic body ₹80,000 a month towards electricity charges.

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