World's First Net Zero Eco Resort
Spice Village is a 56-cottage Resort amidst huge spice plantations and wildlife reserve, on the border of Periyar Tiger Reserve in Thekkady, Kerala.
The Resort described “a tribute to ancient ways of life” where “hewn stone replaces shag carpets” and “birdsong takes the place of television,” it provided comfort for modern travelers while giving them a chance to enjoy a simple “back-to nature” experience.
Although the resort was connected to the grid, due to poor grid quality and periodic blackouts, it heavily depended on diesel generators. Not only were the generators emit noise & pollution, but time consuming and costly to maintain, and expensive as fuel purchased and brought from far away.
Considering the growing demand of the global travelers for eco-friendly destinations and properties, the Resort decided to “go green” to make it a low carbon emissions resort in line with their ethics conforming to green energy policy of the government.
In late 2011, Spice Village sought the expertise of TS to design and install an off-grid SPV system for their resort.
Upon study of the existing resort facilities and requirements, TS came up with 65Kw SPV plant to meet 100% of the resort’s power needs with biodiesel genset standby if required.
The successful implementation of the project has eliminated the use of DG operation and thus the emission and noise, and did away with the Grid.
It is now totally isolated from the grid and is immune to grid failures and poor quality of the grid.
The project set a payback time of five years for the PV system investment.
The resort became the world’s First Net Zero – Eco Resort.
The Project earned Finalist Nominee in the InterSolar Award for the year 2012. It won the 2nd position in the Award ceremony.
It qualified for subsidy, became eligible to earn carbon credits.
By switching to solar energy solutions provided by TS, the resort made good savings on all counts.
This project has set a bench mark of low carbon, zero discharge, and environment friendly resort property of its kind in the industry.
The installation proved that solar power can work under altitude of 3000ft above sea level where fog and cloudy conditions are prevalent and removed the Myth that the solar power is not practical for the climatic condition.
The project was an eye opener to the Hospitality Sector as well as to the government agencies.
TS came across various challenges in its way towards the successful execution of the project and came up with pioneering solutions to overcome them.
TS took up those challenges as opportunities and pioneered a commercially viable solution that helped the resort go completely on solar power without dependence on Grid or DG.
The primary challenge in adopting Solar PV for meeting the total power requirement of the resort was to conduct an energy audit and reduce the electricity consumption to the lowest possible levels, but at the same time not compromising on any of the comforts and facilities offered to the guest. It was also important to conduct energy audit to reduce the power consumption to arrive at an optimize system capacity and make the project financially viable.
A detailed energy audit was conducted to understand inefficiencies in the present system. By analyzing the resort’s existing appliances and electrical consumption, TS was able to improve the resort’s energy efficiency by more than 500%, reducing the per day consumption from 750kWh to 200kWh. The Energy Audit included the analysis of the present Energy usage at different hours in a day, Documentation of each power point, equipment with wattage, Study of all utilities and analyzing the total load during specific hours, Identify & Observe for leakages, wastage, inefficient energy points. It also required TS to train their staff on Best Energy Efficiency practices.
The resort located near the forest and being environment friendly was covered by trees and high-density vegetation. The only area without trees was the Recreational Area, consisting of the Badminton, Tennis and Basketball Courts. This posed a challenge in terms of panel exposing to sun.
In order to overcome the challenge, TS worked out and designed a structure with the long span and a height of 9 metres, at a reasonable and affordable cost. The PV system are mounted in a fixed array with a 16-degree tilt. Due to the high vegetation of the area and adhering to a mandate that no trees could be cut, TS used a space frame structure to raise the solar array 33 feet above the ground to avoid shading. This elevated design also maximizes irradiance and utilizes the area underneath for tennis and basketball courts.
The area under the 33M structure is now used as a Tennis court and the structure also harvest rain water of around 40,00,000ltrs per year.
The Solar Module structure also has Gutters line along the Solar modules, to collect and harvest Rain Water, the System helps harvest nearly 4 Million Ltrs of water per year, thus the System not only generates Power from the Sun but also harvests Water, it is for the first time anywhere in the World, such an Innovative design is put into practice.
The location of the project, being at an altitude of 3000ft above sea level has access to only diffused sun light.
Considering climate conditions, where fog and cloudy conditions are prevalent, TS choose to select Thin-film PV modules to overcome the overcast skies and high temperatures in the area.
It was observed that the solar Panels so mounted on the Structure are prone to mischief by monkeys and interference from other animals which could lead to disruption of the system performance.
In order to protect the panels and cable from such disruption, TS engineered an innovative unique electric fencing system around the 9 columns which kept all such animals at bey.
The required to run generator eight hours a day to supply power to the cottages and resort buildings.
Since the Resort was located near the forest area, the noise and pollution from the DG was a concern for such environment of the natural habitat and surroundings flora-fauna.
Not only was it noisy, but time consuming and costly to maintain, and expensive as fuel purchased and brought from far away.
But the successful implementation of TS solutions eliminated the use of DG operation and thus the emission and noise.
The Solar Components, like the Solar Modules, Inverters and Battery have been chosen and integrated based on the Climatic Condition of the installation, application and need for reliability.
Due to the high altitude and cloudy condition, Thin Film aSi Solar Modules were use, Highly efficient and reliable SMA Inverter were used.
For such a typical application like Spice Village, the peak load occurs between 1800 to 2200 hrs and thus the reliability and performance of the entire system and even the implementation of PV technology hinges on the performance of Battery Bank.
To meet such requirements, a specialized deep cycle battery bank was designed and manufactured. Thus, Trojan’s industrial line battery used for this project delivers up to 2500 cycles at 50% DOD and has an estimated service life of 15-20 years.
It ensured maximum battery life, withstand the rigorous conditions, extreme temperatures, remote locations and the intermittent nature of solar power generation.