Published: 20th April 2017
Solar flair: Here's how Universities in Kerala are embracing solar power to run their classrooms and labs
While everyone preaches about clean energy, Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University in Kerala has set up a solar plant that provides energy to the majority of the university's needs
Us earthlings are staring at the biggest energy crisis since the beginning of time. The ingenuity and resourcefulness of our race have used up more than half the fossil fuel on the planet within two centuries. But, even in the face of overarching evidence, the population at large has long been in denial. A shift to sources of clean, cheap and renewable energy is long overdue. Although people are moving away from fossil fuels, a shift on a grand scale is nowhere in sight.
All we could wish for, then, are small incremental changes that would add up to a critical mass to herald in a new era of clean energy. That's where the new initiative of Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University, Kalady in Ernakulam, assumes importance.
Harnessing solar power
Earlier this year, the university set up a solar plant that could power a whopping 70% of its energy needs — including labs, research facilities and classrooms. Their solar set-up could produce 400-500 units of electricity each day, which is sufficient for the major energy needs of the university in the day time.
Big bucks all around
The 100 KW solar plant was made by the state-government owned Keltron at a cost of Rs 83 lakh. It was built with the support of the Centre’s Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) and is recognized by the MHRD. On the upside, it also saved the university around Rs 1 lakh a month on their power bill.
Make hay while the sun shines
It shouldn't come as a surprise that solar featured high on the list of alternatives sources for electricity production. Not a single day in the first five months of the year has gone without unabated sunshine in Kerala. Save for the four-month monsoon, the sun is always smiling down benevolently on the denizens of the South Indian state.
But it was not the around-the-year availability of sunshine that triggered the idea. "Solar is a clean source of energy. It does not harm the environment like fossil fuels. This initiative has more to do with finding eco-friendliness than saving money for the university," says Vineeth R, the assistant electrical engineer at the University.
Solar is a clean source of energy. It does not harm the environment like fossil fuels. This initiative has more to do with finding eco-friendliness than saving money for the university
Vineeth R, Assistant electrical engineer, Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University
The solar revolution
Kalady University is not the first university to install a solar plant. University of Kerala had installed a 100 KW solar plant in 2015, thus becoming the first university in the country to be run on solar power as well. However, the beacon of solar energy in the state is Cochin International Airport, lying less than 10 km away from Kalady University, which is powered entirely by solar power.