Pune solar power challenge: At SPPU, from self-funded units to varsity incentives
As installation of solar power units gradually becomes a trend across business houses and residential societies in Pune, educational institutions in the city are not far behind. Latest figures from the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) show that 300 of the 750-odd affiliated colleges have expressed a wish to either install solar units for the first time or expand existing solar panels in this academic year.
In fact, just three months ago, the SPPU administration had decided to incentivise colleges for installing solar panels. The varsity decided to include solar panel installation in the list of approved expenses under its Quality Improvement Programme (QIP), for which the university would give Rs 5 lakh to the colleges. Three types of systems can be installed —- grid tied photovoltaic (PV) system, off-grid system and hybrid system.
Dr Shrirang Bate, deputy registrar and head of QIP, said an amount of Rs 11 crore has been sanctioned for the 300 colleges.
“The other colleges will be included in the project after two years. The idea is to encourage the colleges to opt for green energy, which is also proving to be very cost-effective. Once the proposals are in, our energy studies department prepares a feasibility report on which system is to be installed and other specifications, based on which disbursements are done,” he said. However, officials from the finance and accounts department said that no disbursements have been made yet since feasibility reports have just started coming in. In fact, even colleges which have claimed successful implementation of solar power units have also applied for the scheme.
When it comes to green energy projects, the Modern College of Arts, Science and Commerce on Pashan Road has become a model for other colleges in the city. The college, which installed a hybrid project of wind-solar energy system in 2015, generates 13 kilowatt (kW) power monthly, of which 6kW comes from only solar panels. With a total saving between Rs 60,000 to 70,000 per month, college principal Dr Sanjay Kharat said the investment in the project now seemed worthwhile. “We have also applied for funds under QIP to add more solar panels to our existing panels and bring down energy bills. I think what might hinder colleges, especially aided colleges, is the initial cost of installation. But the university is offering its help, and colleges should take advantage of this as it not only encourages clean energy, but also leads to considerable savings on power expenses,” he said.
While the Dhruv Academy, run by Malpani Group of Institutes, is another success story of solar power generation, the institute has now applied to SPPU to seek funding, so that its degree college can also follow suit. Sanjay Malpani, chairman of Sangamner college that is affiliated to SPPU, said the high installation costs of solar units acted as a deterrent for colleges. “But with the help of SPPU, we can now opt for a bigger unit for our colleges. Also, the net metering decision of the Maharashtra government has benefited us a lot…”