In a dark classroom at the Government Primary School in Shaikpet, students all have ear-to-ear grins, their cheeks rosy as they chime their answers to their teacher’s questions. Why is there no light? It’s been switched off to let the e-classroom projection show up clearly in front of them. The ceiling fans cool the kids down after their exhausting recess but they’re still attentive and are loving the continuous power supply in a time when power cuts are dime a dozen.
Headmistress Y Kezia Mani says a solar plant was commissioned this March, offering a non-stop supply at the school where days run from 8.30 am till 3.30 pm. Said solar plant was set-up by Secunderabad-based solar company Fourth Partner Energy. Last year, they kicked off their Power@1 initiative which sees low-income organisations — such as government schools, primary health centres and non-profits — directly addressing the bank-draining issue of pricey electricity bills by providing them with solar electricity at just ₹1 per unit.
Basically, the scheme comprises a one-time capital cost for a solar plant at the beneficiary’s site, which is paid by the anonymous corporate sponsor; the beneficiary pays just ₹1 per unit of electricity consumed during the entire lifetime of the plant (roughly 25 years) — and Fourth Partner Energy undertakes the maintenance to ensure maximum utilisation of the plant. However, the cost for setting up the plant remains undisclosed.
Kezia explains that prior to the solar set-up, the school was paying around ₹8 or ₹9 per unit but now the difference in their funds can be directed towards vital learning resources and maintenance of the premises. “Working with the government to secure our regular funding was not easy,” she says of the continual red tape she’s had to deal with, “but the peace of mind with this set-up is indescribable.” She says when the plant was first set-up on their open terrace, the students had many questions and she realised it became a classroom in itself. “They know the safety around such a set-up and they also know what the benefits are.”
Pallavi Saxena of Fourth Partner Energy’s marketing and communications team adds, “The solar plant has generated nearly 1,800 kWh electricity and helps meet all the school’s energy requirements. More importantly by switching to solar power, the management will save around ₹35,000 annually in electricity bills. This solar plant has positively impacted the lives of over 570 students studying across classes I to V. The carbon offset from this plant alone is around seven tonnes, every year. The team comes to the solar set-up around every 10 days to make sure everything’s working seamlessly,” adds Pallavi, “and it’s a project that’s safe and doesn’t disturb the existing infrastructure of the building.” The monthly power usages have significantly dropped; for the peak summer heat in May the school observed 663 units while July had only 128 units.
As well as all the electrical components in the building (fans, sockets, e-classrooms, Internet and more), the solar plant also powers their Aquality water treatment plant on the ground floor. The process comprises a raw water pump, a filter, a micron filter, a high press pump among other components — no small feat to keep this running, and Kezia says it’s been useful during the drier months.
Meanwhile, to the east
More recently and a little further away from home, Fourth Partner Energy has set-up a solar plant at Patna’s Akhand Jyothi Eye Hospital which is the largest eye hospital in Eastern India. The hospital performs around 50,000 sight restoration surgeries every year, ultimately helping over 62,000 people.
According to Fourth Partner Energy, the commissioned 50 kWp plant will have a monthly generation of 5,900 units, thus replacing around 23% of the total consumption, essentially meeting 50% of the hospital’s energy requirements — not too shabby. The yearly cost-savings envisioned by the hospital by switching to solar is estimated to be ₹8,00,000. To bring the bigger picture into foresight, the project lifetime, Akhand Jyothi stands to save over ₹2 crore.
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