With depleting fossil fuels, exploitation of resources, and an ever-growing global population, the urgency of adopting renewable forms of energy is dawning upon us now more than ever before. Earlier last year, Prime Minister Modi announced that India would achieve 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2022 and ever since, the country has actively undertaken several initiatives, projects and campaigns to this end. Three major airports—Delhi, Kochi and Hyderabad, a police station in Tamil Nadu as well as a village in Orissa, all switched to solar energy, and this list is fortunately growing.
The Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education (SAICE), based in Puducherry as a part of the larger Sri Aurobindo Ashram, has joined this environmentally sound movement, making it the first educational institution in the country to become self-reliant by meeting all its energy requirements. SAICE first installed a 15 kilowatt solar power unit in 2014.
The project was initially brought to the table in 2012, when a pilot study was conducted by the Ashram to show the school that it could reduce its dependence on fossil fuels—a long term project that requires time and effort. At first, the school’s pattern of electricity use was used to derive its energy requirements. Then, all inefficient lamps, fans, air-conditioners and computers were substituted by more energy-efficient alternatives to lower the energy demand by more than 25 per cent, without compromising the quality and service.
Last year, a 30 kilowatt unit was added to power the Ashram. Presently the school produces three times more energy than they consume, and the surplus is supplied across the neighbourhood. As a result of this shift in electricity consumption, the institute has been able to save on what used to go towards paying utility bills, which ran up to almost Rs. 10,000 every month. And with that, they even believe that they will be able to recover the cost of investment of the solar plant in about a year.
Solar energy has so many benefits today, it’s almost a no-brainer that this source of energy should be seen in more places. Apart from being a renewable source that is available in limitless abundance, it is a far more environmentally beneficial option, and, with new technology, has even become economically reasonable. Steps concerning climate change are the need of the hour, and public and private institutions need to check their carbon footprint through in-house measures and self-policing.
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