Thursday, 27 August, 2015

The Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE) of the Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry is perhaps the first educational institution to become self-reliant by meeting all its energy requirements through solar energy. Grid-tied solar power plants have been installed on the rooftop of the Centre of Education building, Salle d’Art, Library and the Dining Hall with a cumulative capacity of around 130 kW. These rooftop power plants produce over 16,000 units of electricity per month. The four buildings themselves consume less than half of the electricity generated and the excess electricity is exported to compensate for the electricity consumed by other Ashram buildings thereby avoiding transmission and distribution losses. The Ashram did not avail any Government capital subsidy and instead opted for the Group Net Metering facility, a unique feature of the Solar Energy Regulations of December 2014 by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) for Goa and Union Territories. These Regulations provide for the surplus solar energy produced by a consumer to be adjusted in the electricity bill of another service connection of the consumer within the State or Union Territory. This provision facilitates optimal usage of rooftops that are suitable for solar energy in cities where land availability is limited. The performance of the four solar power plants is being tracked online using a remote monitoring system called Wattmon developed in Auroville. The Wattmon system also monitors voltage, current, power output, solar inverter efficiency, cumulative electricity produced at any time of the day.