The nine-decade-old Andhra University is hoping to make a drastic reduction in its carbon footprint by embracing rooftop solar power in a phased manner by the end of this year.
Work on the solar plant has already begun on the south campus and is likely to be completed by June-end.
The project is being undertaken by Mumbai-based TEPSOL Projects. AU has signed an agreement with the firm on a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis.
“The entire work will be undertaken by TEPSOL at their cost, which includes maintenance. The plant will be handed over to us after 25 years,” said Vice-Chancellor Prof. G. Nageswara Rao.
The power requirement for AU is around 5 MW, and in the first phase (south campus), about 2 MW will be catered to.
About 11 buildings, including Dr. VS Krishna Library, Science and Arts College and the hostels, will be hosting the solar panels on their roofs in the south campus.
The setting up of panels is almost complete, and it now needs to be connected to the instruments and equipment, said Madhava Babu, Chief Engineer of AU.
In south campus, the solar power generated would be around 2 MW and another 2 MW will be generated from the north campus.
“We were unable to start the work in north campus, as most of the buildings were taken over by the Election Commission and converted to strongrooms and counting centres. Now that the elections are over, we shall begin the work,” said Prof. Nageswara Rao. While the north campus will generate another 2 MW, the remaining 1 MW will be generated from AU College of Engineering for Women at Sivajipalem. “In total, our target is to generate about 5 MW,” said Mr. Madhava Babu.
Once the project is complete, the cash-strapped university will be able to save a lot of money on electricity bills.
At present, AU is paying APEPDCL (Andhra Pradesh Eastern Power Distribution Company Limited) ₹11 per unit on a commercial tariff.
“We shall now be paying TEPSOL ₹3.69 per unit, which will enable us to save around ₹7.31 paisa per unit,” said the Vice-Chancellor.
The annual electricity bill of AU is around ₹5 to ₹6 crore, and switching to self-reliant solar power would result in a saving of at least a few crores in a year.
“We have been requesting the State Government and APEPDCL for the last five years to convert our tariff from commercial to domestic. But so far, the response has been lukewarm. But we need not worry now, as the power bills will come down drastically,” said Prof. G. Nageswara Rao.