Corporation plans to tap solar energy at all its buildings in three years

Four out of Chennai Corporation’s 15 zonal offices have recently begun to tap solar energy. The civic body recently commissioned six solar power plants, at a cost of Rs. 16 lakh, to light up portions of select zonal offices in the city.

While the facility at Basin Bridge zonal office has the capacity to generate 5 kilowatts of power, the zonal offices at Kodambakkam, Nungambakkam and Adyar; street light office at Shenoy Nagar and the corporation’s electrical lab and stores in Chintadripet each have one kilowatt capacity plants.

According to sources in the Chennai Corporation, these solar power plants have been installed on a pilot basis. “We have sought guidance relating to specifications and norms from the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency so that we can expand to more buildings. Once they let us know, we will begin covering buildings including schools and hospitals,” the source said.

Currently, a portion of these buildings draws their power from the solar panels atop their roof.

“For instance 20 tubelights and 4 ceilings fans have been connected to a one kilowatt plant that will generate 5 units. We have both connections — the grid and solar plant — and switch from one to another when necessary. In about three years, the plants would have recovered their costs and the power would be free,” said a source.

Recently, in its budget, the civic body had announced that in three years time, all its 600-odd buildings would produce solar power.

However, the Corporation has not opted for hybrid plants that also have wind turbines. “We visited a few companies and saw working models. But, we were not satisfied and the companies themselves said such turbines could be installed only in coastal areas in south Tamil Nadu,” a source explained.

The solar power plants are also part of the civic body’s efforts to become more environment-friendly.