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Updated: March 20, 2012 12:17 IST

Work on solar power supply to traffic signals begins

V. S. Palaniappan
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City Police have commenced works to install solar power systems on four traffic signals in Coimbatore City. The rest are likely to be taken up in a phased manner and completed within the next 45 days.

The recent frequent and prolonged power cuts resulted in traffic signals going blind posing a tough time for the police constables manning them as well as motorists. The situation was worse during the night. The constables were forced to manually regulate the traffic and this resulted in violations going unnoticed.

Hence, City Police Commissioner T.P. Sundaramoorthy directed Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police P. Sundaravadivel to explore the other options to keep the signals alive even during power cuts. The idea of installing inverters for uninterrupted power supply failed to provide the desired results, as the battery back-up proved inadequate and protecting the inverters and batteries at night too remained a challenge.

Hence, the police examined the idea of installing photo voltaic panels to solar-power these signals. The sponsors i.e., those who enjoy advertising rights, were requested to get the signals solar-powered. The request was made at a time when their advertising licence rights were due for renewal.

As part of the initiative, installation of photo voltaic panels is being installed at the signals at GP Theatre, Gandhipuram, Lakshmi Mills and Ramanathapuram Junction. While the GP Theatre signal is already under trial, the police are hoping to put the other three into operation in a day or two. The City already has two solar- powered signals on Avanashi Road near the new scheme road and near the Airport. Efforts would be to make the remaining 30 signals also solar powered within the next few weeks. The four were chosen because of the higher traffic density in the particular areas.

The solar power system at GP Theatre signal provided power for 45-minutes after power went off. Officials said that capacity augmentation was also being done with additional panels and by increasing the battery capacity. Ultimately, the signals would get a power back up of 36 hours.

For installing solar power systems, the cost would be Rs 1.5 lakh for each signal. The capacity augmentation of the panels and battery would cost another Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000, personnel involved in the work said. The power bill for each traffic signal now is Rs 3,500 to Rs 4,500 for two months. Personnel involved in the work pointed out that the systems would reduce the dependence and expenditure on electricity. In the long run, recurring expenditure would be less in terms of maintenance costs and electricity bills would also come down significantly. Signals would continue to remain on dual power with electricity continuing to remain but dependence on and usage of conventional power would come down drastically.

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