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IIT-B makes 1MW while the sun shines

According to reports, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has gone the eco-friendly way and established its own solar power plant. From today, the first phase of the 1MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in the institute’s premises will whirr to life, illuminating several departments through a local grid.

The remaining two phases of the plant, which is being manufactured by Mahindra EPC, will be ready by March. With this plant in place, the elite engineering college hopes to generate 13% more power than it consumes now, while cutting down the cost at the same time.

Every month, IIT Bombay consumes approximately 6,500KW of power, which costs the exchequer Rs2 crore. The institute hopes to cut down the bill by Rs50 lakh a month. The plant is expected to produce around 1.45 million units of energy per year, for a minimum period of 20 years.

“The cost of solar energy would be approximately Rs4.1 per unit. The institute currently pays almost double the amount under the commercial tariff,” said Prof Chetan Solanki, department of energy science and engineering, who is also one of the coordinators for the project.

The project, which carries a price tag of Rs8.5 crore, will be the first such on any academic campus in India with such a huge power-generating capacity.

The plant consists of 16 smaller plants, each having a capacity of approximately 50-100KW, spread over the rooftops of 16 academic buildings in the 550-acre campus. More than 4,000 photovoltaic (PV) cells of mono- and multi-crystal silicon modules are incorporated into these plants.

“Installation on the mechanical, electrical, civil, metallurgical engineering and physics departments and the Victor Menezes Convention Centre are already complete, and will start producing 300KW of power from today (Tuesday). That is equivalent to 5 lakh units per year,” said Prof Solanki.

IIT Bombay has already designed and is now commissioning a 1MW solar thermal power plant at Gurgaon in Haryana. The ministry of new and renewable energy has sponsored the project. However, this solar thermal power plant is different from a solar photovoltaic plant. While a photovoltaic plant converts solar energy directly into power, a solar thermal plant heats up the water which is passed through a turbine, which generates power.

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