Karnataka Vikas Grameen Bank (KVGB), a Dharwad-headquartered regional rural bank, is betting big on solar power, not only for its business but also for its operational needs.

Nearly one-third of the power requirement at the head office and 170 branches of the bank is being met by roof-top solar power units.

KVGB Chairman S Ravindran, who was here on Thursday, told BusinessLine that the bank has 615 branches in Dharwad, Belagavi, Bagalkot, Gadag, Haveri, Vijayapura, Uttara Kannada, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. Of these, 170 branches — mostly in remote rural areas — run on solar power.

On an average, each branch requires around 45-50 units of power a day. The roof-top solar power units produce around 15 units a day. Their installation has helped the bank tide over the rampant power supply disruptions in rural areas. The bank is planning to bring another 40 branches under solar power during the current fiscal year.

Ravindran said nearly one-third of the power requirement at the head office is also being met by a 25-kV rooftop solar power plant, which generates 80-100 units a day. The total power consumption in the head office is around 250 units a day. The power generated during holidays is supplied to the grid. This initiative helps the bank save around ₹19,000 in monthly power bills.

KVGB, which has invested around ₹21 lakh on the rooftop solar unit, will recover the amount in six-seven years, said Ravindran.

The bank is also financing solar lighting systems, solar pumpsets and rooftop solar units for its customers.

Ravindran said KVGB started financing solar energy units in its earlier avatar as Malaprabha Grameen Bank, in 1994. Over the past two decades, it has provided around ₹45 crore to finance installation of 25,000 solar lighting units. The units have helped boost economic activities and improve literacy level in rural areas, he said.

Stating that the bank is also encouraging the use of solar pumpsets by farmers, he said it has set a target of financing around 500 such units during the current fiscal year.

Of this, around 200 units have already been financed. Solar pumpsets are a boon for farmers facing power-supply disruptions, Ravindran pointed out.

CSR activities

The bank has also gone solar in its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.

It has installed rooftop solar power plants to provide digital education to students in seven government schools in Belagavi, Haveri and Dharwad districts, said Ravindran.

Apart from this, it has provided two religious institutions with solar energy facilities.