University saves ₹1 crore in energy bill

It is the result of measures to optimise energy use and harness renewable sources over the years

Pondicherry Central University has saved about ₹1 crore in its annual energy bill by optimising its energy use and harnessing renewable sources.

The university, situated on a green campus spread over 780 acres on the East Coast Road, houses 15 Schools, 50 Departments and Centres, a Central Instrumentation Facility, a library, an administrative building, staff quarters and student hostels.

Demand increasing

The electricity required to power the entire campus is estimated to cost ₹75 lakh a month. With power demand ever increasing, the university turned to sustainable energy management with an emphasis on tapping into renewable sources, officials said.

The benefit of a lighter energy bill did not happen overnight, but was the culmination of a series of measures taken in the last few years, they said.

It is pointed out that as early as in 2018, Vice-Chancellor Gurmeet Singh directed that the overhead high-tension lines be made underground lines to cut distribution loss and avoid power failure due to bird hits and the attendant cost of the fuel required to power generators. The campus simultaneously switched to energy efficient LED lighting. It is installing 139 multifunction meters and energy management software, which is expected to help monitor the quality and quantum of power from a desktop computer.

Rooftop solar plants have been installed at 15 buildings to provide a total capacity of 1,223.5 KW. The solar panels installed across the campus generate 2.4 MW worth about ₹13 crore.

One of the most important initiatives has been the roll-out of a 2.4-MW solar power project in March 2021. It entails no financial commitment on the university. It is based on the RESCO model — recommended by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy — under which a company develops, installs, finances, operates and owns the project and supplies power to the client.

This plant, which was formally commissioned in September by Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, is said to be the single largest installation on any educational campus in the country. “We are now in the happy situation wherein apart from saving about ₹9 lakh on our monthly energy bill, the institution funnels about 1 lakh MW to the Puducherry power grid each month,” Assistant Registrar and university spokesman K. Mahesh said. The contribution to the grid, he added, would go up in the summer.

The university has also installed a 500 KVA diesel generator, a dedicated HT feeder and fire safety/firefighting equipment, all costing ₹7.14 crore. All the conventional light-fittings are being replaced in phases with energy-saving LED light-fittings.

It is estimated that a third of the power requirement of the campus is being met through non-conventional energy generated for captive consumption, and carbon emission will likely be cut to the extent of 2,900 tonnes a year.

According to the spokesman, measures are being taken to expand rooftop solar installations to more buildings and turn the campus gradually into a fully solar- powered one.

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