At Naandi, each house has solar panels installed on the rooftop. All homes are connected to form a micro-grid within the community. A micro-grid allows power sharing between homes within the community. When one house has excess power generation and another needs power, energy exchange can happen. A two-way meter measures the amount of energy exported from each house and the amount of energy imported into the house. Any excess power generated from the community is exported to the government grid.
There is a micro-grid at Antharam. Since the solar panels are installed on parking areas and not on rooftops of homes, the micro-grid is formed through interconnections of the electrical network between different parking areas. The power generated in the parking area at one cluster can be consumed anywhere in the community.
Having solar panels on each rooftop, although a great idea, has an impact on the efficiency and maintenance of the system.
Solar panels on each rooftop would mean
o A Higher number of electrical components such as solar inverters in the community. This would mean the failure rate would also be more
o Higher cost due to the need for installation of inverters on each rooftop
o Difficulty in cleaning the solar panels every month by the maintenance team who have to climb up the roof of the house once a month to clean. If the panels are not cleaned regularly, the efficiency of solar panels drop. This impacts not just the house but also the community as a whole.
There are no batteries installed to store excess energy for consumption at night. Batteries are expensive and need to be replaced every 4 to 5 years. Safe disposal of batteries is also a challenge as they might end up in a landfill and the chemicals may leak into the ground.
Instead, at Antharam, we will export excess power produced to the Government Grid during the day and take it back for free at night through net-metering. This is a more sustainable way since we use the existing resource (the government electric grid) instead of adding new materials.
Considering we import and export power via net-metering with the Government Grid, it is essential that our electricity parameters, such as voltage, phase and frequency, match the Grids. The inverter takes these parameters from the Grid and produces electricity that matches these values to achieve this.
In case there is a power cut, the inverter senses this and shuts down the solar power production. This is called Islanding and is a mandatory safety precaution. Without islanding, the inverter keeps exporting power to the Grid and any linemen working to resolve power failure might get a shock.
Therefore, when there is a power cut, the dependence would be first on individual UPS systems and then on Diesel Generators.
Yes. Although the energy production is through solar photovoltaic, the government levies Minimum Demand Charges to the community every month because of the net-metering system facility that we are subscribing to.
The community will be billed with the Minimum Demand Charge regardless of the amount of energy produced that month.