State’s first solar-powered campus, perhaps the first one of its kind in the whole country, is coming up in Thiruvalla.

Mar Athanasios College For Advanced Studies Thiruvalla (Macfast), the first private self-financing college in the State that had carved a special niche for becoming first on many fronts over the past one decade, is soon to add yet another feather on its cap of achievements by becoming the State’s first solar-powered campus.

Thanks to its visionary founder principal, Fr Abraham Mulamoottil and his successor, Fr Pradeep Vazhatharamalayil, for this praiseworthy achievement.

Innovation has always been hallmark of Macfast that had launched the State’s first campus-based community radio service, ‘Radio Macfast-90.4’ two years ago and the popular ‘Green and Clean City’ project a year ago.

Macfast has installed a 30 kw rooftop solar power plant envisaging an yearly production of 45,000 units (kilowatt hours) of electricity which could meet half of the annual power demand of the institution.

The design and installation of the solar power plant has been done the Hyderabad-based Radiant Solar Private Limited with approval and support from the Union Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and ANERT attached to Department of Power, Kerala.

According to Fr Vazhatharamalayil, Macfast has invested Rs 72 lakhs in the solar power project, that include Rs 22 lakhs towards capital subsidy from MNRE and Rs 37 lakhs in the form of low interest loan from State Bank of Travancore refinanced by NABARD.

“The project is significant not only in terms of its size and technical attributes, but also in terms of its demonstration to the community the ease with which solar generated power can be installed by small and medium enterprises for their financial and operational benefit, besides the wider ecological benefits to the society. This achievement by a post-graduate college producing the next generation of technocrats, community and business leaders stands as a model to the rest of the country,’’ says Fr Mulamoottil.

The system has got 27,600 Watts panels (Wp), 30 KW state of the art bi-directional charger capable of functioning as an interactive inverter with grid-tie capability, four-member charge controllers, a 19-inch rack and a central monitoring device package. The innovative campus-based solar power plant is Macfast’s answer to the demand for Green Energy.

Renewable energy that has little impact on the carbon footprint is the only viable solution to address the increasing energy needs of the country in an ecologically sustainable manner, said Fr Vazhatharamalayil.

The 25 kw plant in Thiruvananthapuram was the largest solar power plant in the State till the installation of the all new 30 kw solar power plant at Macfast.

Green Energy

The threats of global warming and climate change are being countered by a mushrooming of giant solar power plants all over the world.

Spain and Germany are in the forefront with installed capacities of 2232 mw and 1235 mw respectively. The 3 mw solar power plant in Kolar in Karnataka is the largest one of its kind in India.

The largest single photo voltaic plant with a capacity of 80 mw is in Sarina, Canada. The plant covers an area of 380 ha with 1.3 million thin film panels in an extent of 96.6 ha, says Mr Viswanath Nambiar, president of Radiant Solar Limited.

Government of India has recently launched the ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission aimed at promoting development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses across the country. The Solar Mission will be implemented in three stages leading to power production to an installed capacity of 20,000 mw by the end of the 13th Five Year Plan in 2022, he adds.

Electricity Minister, Aryadan Mohammed, will inaugurate the solar power plant at Macfast as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of the college on Saturday.