India's First Net Zero Office Complex
Malankara Plantations Limited is spread across a very large land area with its Administrative Office in Kottayam, Kerala.
The Office Complex is an 86-year old heritage building, mainly built of wood with tiled roof on wooden rafters.
The old structure is historically registered under classification “Heritage” in India and its preservation is mandated by the state.
The power consumption of the Office Complex consists of 18 tons of air-conditioning, followed by water pumps, three packing machines, IT/networking and lightings.
Although the Complex was connected to grid, it suffered from frequent blackouts due to power shortages on the electrical grid. This forced the company to relay on increased diesel generator operations.
The plantation located in a tropical region where temperatures ranged from 28°C to 32°C. 90% of the energy load occurred during the day, and the tariff cost of electricity projected to increase by 6.5% in addition to the cost of diesel fuel which stood to increase 50% over the past five years.
In order to reduce the increasing cost of both diesel generators and grid as well as mitigate its carbon footprint, the Management sought the expertise of TS to explore the possibilities of implementing Renewable Energy as an alternative option.
TS undertook a detailed survey of the site and successfully implemented a 25kW Off-Grid SPV Power Plant which powered all the Energy requirements of the Office Complex, including 18 tons of Air-conditioning, Computers, printers, lightings, fans, ventilation, office equipment, water pumps and packing machines.
The Main components of 25kW system consisted of
The system ensures uninterrupted power, offers an energy cost savings payback of less than five years.
The successful implementation of the project by TS turned the Heritage Building Complex of Malanakara Plantations into the First Net Zero Office Complex of India as it was disconnected from the Gird and functioned Off-Grid wholly on its own self?generated Solar Power.
Array Capacity : 25 kW
Inverter : 27 kW
Battery Bank : 2040 Ah @ 48V
Earlier a 30 kVA Diesel Generator set was used for backup power supply for approximately 5 hours in a day. It was operational for 260 days a year consuming approx. 7800 litres of diesel.
The project benefited from carbon financing, meeting the energy security needs, and preventing the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by reducing DG operations to almost nil.
It reduced up to 47 tons of carbon emissions per year, saving an estimated 97% in diesel fuel consumption.
TS came across challenges in the way of successful execution of the project. A few of challenges being faced by TS during the process of project implementation were High energy consumption, Space constrain, Keeping the heritage structure intact and Local weather conditions.
By its long experience and expertise TS overcame all the challenges by pioneering the most appropriate designs and engineering solitons as required for the project.
As a first step, TS conducted a detailed Energy Audit and addressed the cause of high energy consumption by replacing inefficient devices and incorporating energy management measures.
TS was thus able to reduce the existing energy consumption by 50% which, in turn, helped reduce the array capacity.
To address the cloudy and rainy days, TS adopted the technology of A-si thin film modules which perform even under low light and cloudy conditions.
It helped ensure the required generation of power even during the heavily cloudy and rainy days.
The array capacity was designed for the worst days of the year considering the 15-year climatic data of the region.
Being a heritage building, the structure posed a challenge as it could not be altered in any way.
To overcome this barrier, TS designed and engineered a Space Frame structure to mount the solar modules 9 Meters above the ground (Courtyard).
The space frame structure supported by four columns each occupying merely 2 sqm of foot print at the corners allowed access and usage of the courtyard as before.
The structure provided shade to the Courtyard as well as a Rain Water Harvesting system for the building.
The Malankara Plantations project bears testimony to the success of energy efficient engineering solutions pioneered by TS as an effective alternative to conventional source of energy.
The project was both financially and technically feasible with a project payback of less than 5 years.
It was yet another successful example by TS for the government and private sectors to follow and replicate many such installations in the country.
It set up a corporate social responsibility model for other business leaders to follow.