Higher Education Department kick-starts campaign

With the State mandating six per cent solar purchase obligation (SPO) for all colleges, the Higher Education Department on Thursday kick-started a campaign on the need to install solar power system to fulfil the mandate by January 2014.

At a State-level conference attended by vice-chancellors, Regional Directors of Collegiate Education and management and academic representatives of colleges from the Chennai region, Higher Education Minister P. Palaniappan said that the recently unveiled Solar Energy Policy 2012 mandated six per cent SPO on (HT consumers, including) colleges.

Since Tamil Nadu had the maximum number of universities and colleges with vast campuses and plenty of space for rooftop solar systems there should not be any problem in achieving the mandate. As higher education institutions functioned during daytime, solar energy derived could be directly used, reducing loss of energy, he said.

Direct use will cut costs

As the peak generation time was during working hours, direct use of solar power would reduce the dependence on batteries leading to lesser capital investment, the Minister said.

The Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA), the nodal agency, has come up with a 25 kW special solar energy system package for educational institutions. Under the package, 35,000 to 40,000 units (kWh) per year of power can be generated from installing a solar system in about 4,000 sq. ft of area.

The cost of the system (grid tie or non-battery) will be Rs. 30 lakh to 35 lakh without subsidy and for battery system, Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 60 lakh without subsidy.

Colleges have to apply through the TEDA if they want to avail of 30 per cent subsidy from the Union Ministry of Renewable Energy (MNRE) on the entire system cost, officials said. The 25 kW Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) plant with one-hour battery backup can operate 200 tube lights of 40W, 100 fans and 150 computers.

The vice-chancellors and Regional Directors of Collegiate Education will insist on all college managements adopting the mandate. Their budgeting season begins now. If there is a need, similar conferences will be held in other parts of the State, said an official of the Higher Education Department.

TEDA Chairman and Managing Director Sudeep Jain said that the cost of Solar Photo Voltaic systems had come down and the institutions could approach the agency for clarification and help in installing the solar system.