Case Study: Rooftop Solar at Bhusari Cold Storage, Begusarai

March 4, 2016

By Mr. Pavan Mallela, Marketing & Strategy Planner, Fourth Partner Energy

Solar energy makes sense for India.  With abundant sunlight available, each new solar project helps clean the air, fight global warming, save money on energy bills.

Rooftop Solar is particularly relevant to the Cold Storage Facilities across the country. Typically, these facilities are outside urban areas with plenty of sun available and unused rooftop space. For the cold storage facilities, power costs account for ~35% of the indirect costs.

All these factors make rooftop solar power plant a commercially viable and compelling proposition to be implemented as a cost reduction initiative.

Bhusari Cold Storage Pvt Ltd is one of the several Rural Agri Business Centres (RABCs) in Bihar. The company has adopted rooftop solar and kickstarted the green energy adoption in the area of Begusarai, Bihar.Bhusari Cold Storage Pvt Ltd is one of the several Rural Agri Business Centres (RABCs) in Bihar. RABCs have been seen as one of the significant interventions to accelerate growth of food processing sector in Bihar.Bhusari Cold Storage has adopted rooftop solar and kickstarted the green energy adoption in the area of Begusarai, Bihar.

2. Background

Role of RABCs in Bihar

Bihar is the third largest producer of vegetables; fifth largest producer of fruits and eighth largest producer of grains in India. 90% of Bihar’s population is dependent on agriculture. Inspite of high volume of production and a good range of crops, the earnings from farming are poor. A Rajendra Agriculture University study estimates post-harvest losses in horticultural crops at Rs.2000 crore per annum. The reasons for the post harvest losses are manifold. They include poor production practices, poor post harvest management, practices, lack of grading at farm level, poor packaging, poor transportation, multiple, handling, and poor marketing system.Realizing the potential role horticulture can play in the development of the state economy, Government of Bihar has initiated the RABCs. Each RABC is expected to strengthen the agro economy in its catchment zone by providing the following services to the farmers and the industry – Sale of agri-inputs and services, Procurement and Primary processing, Storage, Marketing.

Energy Scenario – Bhusari Cold Storage

Bhusari Cold Storage Pvt Ltd (BCS) is located in Begusarai district of Bihar. The cold storage facility has a capacity of 7200 MT and primarily used for horticultural products such as potatoes and onions.Facilities also include farmers training for 20 farmers, 5 shops on agri input, and a soil testing lab.As per its owner Mr Navneet, the key challenges the cold storage facility face is inadequate power supply and rising energy costs. For a cold storage facility, average daily requirement of power would range from 320 kWh to 1200 kWh based on the facilities installed. Taking into account the current power supply scenario in the state the facilities would run on DG set for approximately 4-8 hrs/ day.

3. Rationale for Rooftop Solar

When Mr Navneet Ranjan (promoter of BCS) pondered on the energy costs for facility, he realized that while his power cost from the grid (EB) were rising, his actual cost of power was much higher! This was because Bhusari Cold Storage was also using the power from the DG (Deisel Generation) set for approximately 6-8 hours a day. The company evaluated alternative sources of energy. It was located in a remote location with plenty of sunlight and free rooftop space. BCS also wanted to ensure a reduced carbon footprint by minimizing its diesel usage.BCS realized that all these factors make rooftop solar power plant a commercially viable and compelling proposition to be implemented as a cost reduction initiative. The company discussed with several companies and identified Fourth Partner Energy as their suitable partner for implementation of rooftop solar system in Begusarai.

4. Project Implementation

After site survey and initial design, Fourth Partner Energy (4PEL) proposed a 100 kWp Grid-connected Rooftop Solar System on the BCS premises. As per the site survey report, plenty of sunlight and shadow-free rooftop was beneficial to BCS. 4PEL customized the design to suit cold storage facility’s rooftop area of 10,000 sq ft. The Roof Top Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant at Bhusari cold storage, Begusarai. utilized rooftop area of about 10,000 sq. ft available on the terrace and lift rooms of the building. The SPV power plant with capacity of 100kWp is connected to grid. No battery storage has been provided. It would meet partial load of the building during daytime. The grid connected SPV project would be a demonstration plant to harness renewable energy and the data on generation would be utilized for analysis of the various aspects of operation as also that of availability of power. Mr Navneet of BCS financed the project through a mix of debt and equity. Debt was financed through a PSU bank. While approving the project, the lending bank also considered 4PEL’s credentials, system design and cost efficiency for the project. Key phases in the project execution included project design, system engineering, commissioning of plant, quality check, and O&M activities. Work on the site lasted for 3 weeks for the 100 kWp Grid-connected Rooftop Solar System. As per the proposed design, no batteries were used.BCS also received approval the SECI subsidy of 30% for its capital cost.

5. Project Benefits

The 100 kWp grid-connected rooftop solar system at Bhusari Cold Storage generates approximately 147,000 units (kWh) annually. Savings in power bill during the first year are expected to be approximately INR 11 lacs and INR 465 lacs over the project lifetime (25 years). The long life for the asset and low maintenance cost for solar ensures BCS some energy security for the next 25 years. Also, any excess energy generated can be exported to the grid. The company can claim an accelerated depreciation of 80% in the first year – thereby reducing its tax considerably. The expected payback period for the rooftop solar system is approximately 4 years.

For cold storage companies, power costs account for ~35% of the indirect costs.

By installing the 100 kWp grid-connected rooftop solar system, Bhusari Cold Storage has addressed two key concerns of the company:

  1. How to stem the rising energy costs
  2. How to reduce the carbon footprint and make a “greener” world

Environmental Impact by the company:

Implementing a 100 kWp system has the following environmental impact (per annum compared to coal fired thermal power plant):

  • Emission reduction:

COx ~ 1,30,000 kgs, SOx ~ 340 kgs, Nox ~ 340 kgs

  • Reduction in usage of natural resources:

Coal ~ 56,000kgs, Water ~ 2,43,000 lts

This is equivalent to planting 5800 mature trees

About Fourth Partner Energy (4PEL)

Fourth Partner Energy Pvt. Ltd. (4PEL) aims to build, develop and manage a large operating portfolio of de-centralized solar power assets in India and is positioned as a leading RESCO (Renewable Energy Services Company).

Fourth Partner Energy (4PEL) started in 2010 with a focus on decentralised/ rooftop solar energy market.

4PEL has completed over 400 solar installations across the country with several marquee clients. Customers range from a variety of industries such as educational institutions, corporates, hospitals, banks, industrial clients, and non-profit organizations.

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