Sixtyfive houses in Alambadi village did not have any power supply for the past 75 years.
The School of Electrical Engineering in the Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore, has electrified, using solar energy, 65 houses in Alambadi village in rural Karnataka which did not have any power supply for the past 75 years.
The professors and students of the Solar Energy Research Cell (SERC), School of Electrical Engineering, VIT, did this under a project Intelligent Off-Grid System for energy sustainable village — sanctioned by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the banner, Mission Innovation Challenge-Off Grid Energy Access.
The team carried this out in association with consortium partners, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom, Roma Tre University, Italy, and Indian institutes such as the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Rural Energy and Development, Trust for Rejuvenation of Environment and Nature Development, and Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, Karnataka.
“Under this project, the Indian institutes will 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 Prof. N. Rajasekar, SERC, VIT.
The VIT has been allotted a grant of ₹ 2.408 crore for 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 implementing. One unit has been installed in Alambadi, in a wildlife reserve in Karnataka, to power 65 legally approved houses. The other three sites are at Saichammal, Goliyali and Gowliwada, in Belgaum district, Karnataka. In total, we will provide electrification to around 120 houses,” said Srinivasan Shankar Kumar, junior research fellow, SERC, VIT.
The system uses solar energy integrated with battery backup. “We have also introduced a charge controller that works at different voltage levels. It has an inbuilt processor which 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,” explained Mr. Rajasekar.
The access to electricity improved panchayat amenities such as 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 instal an animal prevention system in the villages. “Most of the families in the villages we work in are below the poverty line. Agriculture is the main source of income. Wild boars and deer damage the cultivated land. So we are coming up with the UV sensor based technology that captures animal intervention and triggers a dynamic light and sound pattern which will scare off the animals,” added Mr. Rajasekar.