Off-Grid Solar Project – U-Solar

MERCOM INDIA – U-Solar was declared the winner in the ‘Best Off-Grid Solar Project’ category at the Solar Awards 2021 in the recently-held Mercom India Solar Summit 2021.

The U-Solar’s micro-grid with storage project and diesel generator backup was developed for retailer Big Basket at its warehouse in Kataria, Gurugram, Haryana. The project is one of the first off-grid solar energy lithium-ion battery storage projects in the country.

The 144 kW (DC) capacity project was developed over an area of 1,440 square meters with a battery storage capacity of 281 kWh. The project was developed under the OPEX model. In all, 434 monocrystalline solar modules with a wattage capacity of 330 kWp were used in the project.

Adani and Delta supplied the modules and inverters for the project, respectively.

There were seven award categories in the Mercom India Solar Awards 2021, and winners were chosen based on project innovation, challenges overcome, uniqueness, and impact on the community, economy, and the environment.

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The award was received by K.R.Harinarayan, Founder and CEO of U-Solar.

He said, “There are many storage projects, but this project is unique and different in many aspects. Big Basket has a huge warehouse near Delhi. It is completely off-grid, as they are having issues with the distribution company (DISCOM). It was being run on diesel sets for 24 hours a day and was a cause of concern for the company financially as well as for its environmental impact.”

“It was a huge challenge for us when we took up the project. We took up the challenge of reducing the use of diesel sets. We did a detailed study of the load pattern and found an optimal solution using solar and lithium-ion storage. We developed the project and reduced the use of diesel generating sets from 24 hours to four hours. It has helped Big Basket, and they are very happy with the output. We have signed a power purchase agreement with Big Basket, and we sell them power at a very nominal cost. It was a challenge, but it has been rewarding at the same time,” he added.

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The engineering team at U-Solar conducted a detailed assessment of the energy use at the location. One of the main challenges in implementing the project was that the location was remote and had no grid accessibility. There was a heavy reliance on diesel generators for operations.

Optimization was a big challenge. Understanding the load pattern was another. There were multiple compressors which meant that the load was not constant. The team also considered shading while designing and installing the solar system. To achieve efficiency, solar panels were installed at optimum angles.

Big Basket wanted at least 50% of the total energy generated from the captive power project, and they were also looking at cost-cutting by reducing consumption from diesel generators. As a solution, the U-Solar team created a micro-grid by connecting the diesel generator to the rooftop solar power project and the storage to solve it.

U-Solar deployed some of the best practices, including achieving the optimum balance between the load, solar system, and the battery bank to reduce wastage of excess solar power. The battery bank is made of lithium-ion to maintain the balance between the load and the solar system.

Recently, U-Solar won 5 MW of grid-connected, ground-mounted solar projects at the V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust at Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, in a tender floated by the Solar Energy Corporation of India.