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Making power while the sun shines

According to reports, for the residents of Idihalli, a remote village in Tumakuru district of Karnataka, the shimmering 30 Mega Watt (MW) solar farm— that generates 30,000000 volt ampere power—set up in their vicinity is a big surprise. People are happy that they are a part of the first solar farm of India, and are contributing their bit in generation of clean energy.

Thanks to the Mumbai-based CleanMax Solar, one of India’s largest rooftop solar power developers, today this solar farm is supplying power to IT companies, five-star hotels and MNC manufacturers in Bengaluru. “The consumers pay for the units consumed on a monthly basis, while investment and operations are done by us,” says Andrew Hines, business development head of CleanMax Solar for southern region.

“Through this grid-connected solar farm, we can supply close to 100 per cent of our customers’ power consumption, thus decreasing their carbon footprint. One can also save 15-20 per cent on their energy costs.”

The solar farm set up with a cost of `175 crore, comprises more than 90,000 solar modules spread over 170-acre land.

“The tariff rates are usually confidential and vary from project to project but they are usually less than the conventional power rates, says Hines. “The Idihalli solar farm was quite attractive from the perspective of solar radiations. Besides, land and soil were conducive for construction of the farm. As the farm is a three-hour drive from Bengaluru, it became easier for us to take clients on a visit and showcase the project.”

Starting the solar farm project was not at all easy, says Hines. “There were huge challenges in setting up the state’s biggest solar farm as land acquisition and government approvals took time and needed to be started well before any construction was planned.”

Not just solar farms, the company also installs rooftop projects—usually in metros with high-rise buildings. Founded in 2011, CleanMax Solar has already commissioned more than 200 projects across India for corporates, manufacturing units, large-scale industries, educational institutes, and airports.

Hines explains that rooftop solar development will make a big difference in achieving the country’s dream of setting up 40,000 MW of rooftop plants by 2022. “While the present capacity of rooftop solar system is a little over 1,000 MW in the country, the growth is more than 100 per cent per year. It takes three months to install a large rooftop solar plant, and the on-site installation is done within a month. So we expect the rapid growth to continue for at least 5-6 years. This will also contribute to the country’s power share,” he says.

CleanMax Solar has pioneered the ‘build-own-operate’ model of rooftop solar system in India. “Five years ago, we had to educate consumers on how solar power works, but today it is on the agenda of almost every leading corporate, which has made our job easier,” says Hines.

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