Biogas and solar PV to provide decentralised renewable energy in Santiniketan

Visva-Bharati, NBIRT, IIT-Bombay IIT-Madras, University of Exeter, University of Leeds/Sheffield, University of Nottingham.

Due to the lack of electricity, the quality of life in Indian rural areas is severely affected, causing a gap between urban and rural areas. An initiative called Bridging the Urban and Rural Divide (BURD) by DST (BURD) and RCUK-UK, funded a project to provide decentralised renewable energy in a Tribal hamlet of Kaligunj and Pearson Pally at Santiniketan. The solution consists of  bystand-alone integrated 5kW biogas and 4.5kW photovoltaic (PV) solar systems. Electricity was provided to 12 families (for lighting and mobile charging) and a primary health centre (one fan and light) with a demand profile of 9.5KW. The work was carried out in collaboration with a consortium of academicians from India (Visva-Bharati, IIT-M and IIT-B) and UK (3 universities University of Exeter, University of Leeds/Sheffield, University of Nottingham). Visva-Bharti was the Principal Investigator on Indian part and University of Exeter on the UK side.

The consortium worked on the Integration of renewable energy systems (Solar and Biomass) and developed a centralised control unit. Control unit forms a significant part of integration by managing the load requirement with the available renewable energy sources.  Primary power source was Solar PV (250X 18 Nos) with a maximum power point voltage of each panel of 31.1V and maximum power point current of each panel is 8.05A. Ten AMC batteries of 12V and 150Ah were installed to store the electricity. Secondary power source was from biogas produced using aquatic weeds like water hyacinth and salvinia, which are locally available.A biogas generator was used to convert produced biogas energy into electricity. The power output was 5kW (220V 3-phase AC output).

A tribal house after electrification

The main objective of the project is bridging the urban-rural divide (BURD) by the development and upliftment of the rural tribal communities. Some of the key points on the social part of the project at Santiniketan in a tribal hamlet of Kaligunj and Pearson-Pally  are:

  • Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Development through renewable energy delivery in the area;?
  • Educational Improvement;
  • Healthcare Development;
  • Social Development;
  • Economic Development;
  • Women's Empowerment;
  • Improved Quality of Life;
  • Improving conditions of the Tribal community.
Project site at Pearsonpally, Kaligunj a tribal hamlet, Visva-Bharati