Ten years after the first integrated rooftop solar housing was attempted in Kolkata in the New Town area, we now have an affordable housing project in suburban Serampore looking to become the second-largest in housing rooftop solar globally with a generation capacity of over 1.5 MW.
With the solar economics becoming quite lucrative, a number of developers are eyeing solar rooftop in their housing projects to offset electricity requirements in common areas and reduce maintenance charges.
The 30 lakh sqft housing project on a 23 acre plot in Serampore will utilize 2 lakh sqft roof area in the 24 G+12 towers to produce 1.5 MW electricity (18 lakh units).
“This will power around 90% of the common area, including the club, elevators, sewage treatment plant, pumps, staircase and landing lights, street lights, leading to a saving of Rs 1.25 cr per year. This will substantially reduce maintenance charges to under Rs 1 per sqft, ensuring that those who buy these low-cost apartments also find it affordable to live in them,” said Eden Realty chairman Sachchidanand Rai.
According to Piyush Sharma, director of India operations of Enact Systems Inc of US that does both solar rooftop project planning and management, it will be the second-largest solar integrated residential project in the world after Québec in Canada.
Two other housing projects that are under construction in Kolkata will also have rooftop solar facility — 220 KW at Solaris Bonhooghly and 400 KW in Solaris Joka.
SP Gonchowdhury, who deigned the first solar housing project Rabi Rashmi Abasan in New Town in 2008 with 20 houses that generated 60 KW power to meet its demand, said many more housing projects will go solar with the cost of solar installation coming down from Rs 13 per kwh to Rs 4.
“We have had solar rooftop in institutions and commercial spaces. Nearly 70 schools and colleges have solar rooftop as do many infrastructure facilities and commercial establishments, including Kolkata airport. With price installation cost now becoming less expensive than thermal, many housing projects will not adopt rooftop solar to reduce the common area electricity bill,” he said, adding that the AC load of apartments on the top floor will also reduce due to the shade that solar panels will provide.
The Ambuja Neotia group is already chalking out plans to do so after setting up a 50 kw rooftop at Eco Centre and finalizing two more — 250 KW at City Centre, Haldia, and 100 KW at City Centre, New Town. “We will also utilize land assets to set up megawatt size solar plants,” said Ambuja Neotia director Parthiv Neotia.