Now, save on power bills with ‘grid-free' homes

Anjana Chandramouly Bangalore | Updated on September 15, 2011

While solar-based water heaters or lighting is a given for green housing projects, Bangalore-based real estate developer Biodiversity Conservation India Ltd (BCIL) has gone a step further by offering “grid-free” homes for its customers.

The project will generate its own electricity with minimum dependence on the State's electricity grid.

Green power

Besides, the project Zed Earth is completely self-sustained for its water and waste disposal needs as well.

Though the company has already provided energy-efficient systems at its earlier projects, Mr Chandrashekar Hariharan, Chief Executive Officer, BCIL, told Business Line that this time, it will also be looking at on-site green power generation in addition to energy-efficient building designs.

“What sets Zed Earth (housing project) apart is the fact that we are using renewables (solar thermal, solar PV and wind turbines) for all energy needs,” he said.

“We have a 1.5-KW solar panel array and a 2-KW wind turbine. We also plan to augment a bio-diesel or ethanol-based fuel cell into our energy source.” The project will be ‘grid-free' to the extent that its dependence on Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd (KPTCL) would be about 20 per cent and the rest is expected to be generated on campus.

While the over-130 individual homes will use power only from solar photovoltaic panels, common areas in the campus will draw from a combination of solar, wind and bio-diesel power.

The company hopes to achieve this through system integration using sophisticated inverter systems that would “harmonise the different sources of power, including from the State grid”.

Though being grid-neutral is achievable, Mr Hariharan said that law doesn't permit it yet.

The company uses multi-crystalline and poly-crystalline solar panels with 11-15 per cent efficiency levels and uses ‘neodymium magnets' (permanent magnet motors) to increase efficiency of all their power-generating units.

BCIL sources equipment for wind and solar generating units from the US, Germany, Switzerland, Thailand, Brazil and China.

Residents at ZED Earth will use compact fluorescent bulbs and five-star rated appliances only, while ensuring not more than two heating loads are working at a time to reduce their dependence on the State grid for energy and, in turn, save on their power bills.

For instance, they have been provided with 48-watt ceiling fans that reduce power consumption by 25 per cent.

Despite being 70-80 per cent grid-independent, the company doesn't fear energy shortage due to equipment failure.

“We have a ‘triple redundancy' system with wind, solar and direct electricity as a backup. One or the other will act as a back-up,” explained Mr Hariharan.

Published on September 15, 2011

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