BENGALURU: Bengaluru is a city in transition. It is but a reflection of the aims, ambitions, and aspirations of crores of people, especially high-flying professionals. With success at work, comes the demand for many creature comforts, which later metamorphose into necessities, the foremost of which is housing. The city’s constant growth in real estate poses a pertinent question -- one of sustainability -- which one landmark apartment enclave has tried to address.
Perched atop the terraces of 13 apartment blocks of Brigade Gateway at Rajajinagar in Bengaluru is what is considered to be the largest rooftop solar power plant in the apartment segment, not just in Bengaluru, but the country.
Each of the 13 blocks holds a few photovoltaic solar panels, which can harvest anywhere between 10 KW and 48 KW of green energy, which is then used by the residents to power certain common areas, such as the lobby and the elevators. With this, the entire complex is able to generate an impressive capacity of 354.4 KW in total power.
The rooftop solar power plant, commissioned recently, will cater to its 1,255 residents. Malleswaram MLA and IT/BT Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan termed it as the right direction towards achieving sustainable development goals. The synonym for sustainability is often cost savings and efficiency, he pointed out.It is estimated that the plant will enable residents to save up to 69 per cent (which adds up to 4.82 lakh units a year for all 13 blocks) in electricity bills for the common area, said Srinivas Kumar, CEO of RenXSol, the design and installation partner for the project. Meanwhile, the use of micro-inverter technology further reduces the cost in the long run, as it has a longer lifecycle, unlike conventional inverters that require replacement every five years.
Sunil Thamaran, V-P and MD of Enphase Energy India, the inverter technology partner for the plant, said that the panels and inverters come with a 25-year warranty, which brings down the operating cost as well. Also, the cost of investment and running the plant will be covered in 7-8 years.
Explaining the technical aspects, Thamaran said that the multiple micro-inverter model adopted here allows the solar power plant to function even if one solar panel fails. The power generation of each panel can also be monitored by the residents on their phones. Drawing long wires to transmit the energy harvested by panels to a massive inverter leads to energy wastage during transmission, which is overcome with micro-inverters fitted underneath the panels.
As it is a residential complex and uses a net metering model, the power generated here cannot be sold to BESCOM. However, Thamaran explained that consumers stand to benefit as it will bring the residential complex from the highest tariff slab. If one is paying per unit, because he/she falls under ‘X’ slab of electricity usage, the solar plant will bring them a slab lower, he added.
Safety is an added bonus in this system. The palm-sized micro-inverters that convert direct current (DC) into alternate current (AC) are snugly connected to the panels through wires not more than two-foot long, which further transmit the converted power to a meter box from where it is supplied to the entire complex. Kumar said these micro-inverters also reduce risks attached with the massive power generation usually seen in apartment complexes.
“Solar is a live generator, and people are not used to having a generating station on top of their heads as they’re used to receiving power from BESCOM. The safety of the station is important. In a conventional inverter, the DC voltage is very high -- up to 600 volts -- which is hazardous in case of a leak, which is a huge risk in a residential area,” he said, adding that all this is well-taken care of by this tested system, offering new-found ‘power’ in the hands of residents.