The iconic NCPA, the mecca of the city’s art and culture lovers, is now holding a beacon for energy conservation measures as well. It has installed one of the city’s largest private rooftop solar projects on its vast terraces.
The roofs of Tata Theatre, Jamshed Bhabha and Experimental Theatre buildings have been fitted with panels. These will help the institution save one-third of its annual electricity consumption. NCPA’s chief engineer Nayan Kale estimates a saving of Rs 50-55 lakh a year. The system, which will yield 450KW of solar energy per annum, will be inaugurated by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday.
Execution was by no means an easy task. “The complex is yards away from the seafront so that was our biggest challenge. NCPA is an iconic structure after all,” said Burgis Bulsara, whose Bandra-based firm Avesta Solar carried out the project. “We had to make sure the system does not suffer corrosion and they will not be displaced by heavy wind speeds. Nothing must go wrong during the monsoon. This equipment has a life of 20-25 years.” This contraption is designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 180 km per hour. Constructed on the build-own-operate model at a cost of Rs 3.2 crore, it will be maintained by Avesta for the next 25 years.
Freddy Talati, CEO of The Associated Building Co., the Tata firm that owns Bombay House, recommended Bulsara to NCPA, after the engineer successfully installed solar panels on Tata’s Army and Navy Building, Central Archives and Elphinstone Building.
Khushroo Suntook, chairman of NCPA, said, “We have large terraces that cannot be used for events or parties as the structures are not equipped to take heavy load. In fact we had explored the possibility of going green a couple of years ago also, but this was the reason we could not do so. At that time solar equipment was very heavy. Now Burgis imported lightweight panels so we agreed to install them.”
NCPA did not like the idea of puncturing its terrace to anchor the panels, so modern panels that eschew this need were imported from Germany. “NCPA uses around 18-20 lakh units of electricity each year. This solar panel system alone can generate 6.5 lakh units, so imagine the money saved. Most NCPA functions are in the evening. The electricity is generated during daytime. Yet, owing to the net metering policy of the state government, they can feed the excess energy generated by the panel back into the grid and get the set-off,” said Burgis.