Institution allotted ₹2.4 cr. grant for installation, commissioning
The School of Electrical Engineering at the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) has electrified 65 houses using solar energy in Alambadi village in rural Karnataka. The village did not have any power supply for the past 75 years.
Professors and students of the Solar Energy Research Cell (SERC), School of Electrical Engineering, did this under the project ‘Intelligent Off-Grid System for Energy Sustainable Village’, sanctioned by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), under the banner of the Mission Innovation Challenge — Off Grid Energy Access.
The team carried this out in association with its consortium partners — the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and the Roma Tre University, Italy — and Indian institutes like the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Rural Energy and Development (MGIRED), Trust for Rejuvenation of Environment and Nature Development (TREND) and the Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering (SVCE), Karnataka.
“Under this project, Indian institutes collaborate with foreign universities and bring up innovation related to rural electrification so that it can be presented as a business model to African countries. The systems which we came up with will be tested in diverse locations across the country. Only nine institutes have been given this grant and ours is the only private one,” said N. Rajasekar, professor, SERC.
VIT has been allotted a grant of ₹2.408 crore for the installation, commissioning and assessment of the system. “We developed a 48-volt solar-powered DC microgrid system for an entire community. We identified two sites for implementation. One unit has been installed in Alambadi, in a wildlife reserve in Karnataka, to power 65 houses. The other three sites are at Saichammal, Goliyali and Gowliwada in Belagavi district, Karnataka. In total, we will provide electrification to around 120 houses,” said Srinivasan Shankar Kumar, junior research fellow, SERC.
The system uses solar energy, integrated with a battery back-up. “We have also introduced a charge controller that works at different voltage levels. It has an inbuilt processor that will help track the power consumption data of the houses remotely. We have also developed an intelligent energy meter that records, transmits and monitors power consumption data. It also uses a long range communication system for data transfer to the cloud,” said Mr. Rajasekar.
The access to electricity improved panchayat amenities like schools, healthcare and sanitation facilities in the village. “The residents thanked us profusely. This will improve the lifestyle of villagers and help children to study better,” he said.
The department will also be installing an animal prevention system in the villages. “Most families in the villages we work in are below the poverty line. Agriculture is the main source of income. Wild boar and deer damage their cultivated land. We are coming up with UV sensor-based technology that captures animal intervention,” added Mr. Rajasekar.