Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education

The Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE) was inaugurated by the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram on January 6, 1959. It is an integral part of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and it provides education from Kindergarten to College.

SAICE has created an environment that encourages children to study for the joy of learning and not for just developing one’s career. This system of integral education makes it the first of its kind in India.

SAICE has also adopted another measure, which is a first of its kind in India. It is India’s first educational Institute that is fully powered by solar energy and is self-reliant in its energy usage.

Dr. Brahmanand Mohanty, a guest professor at the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, guided the project. Sunlit Future provided the necessary technical support to materialize it.

In the beginning of the project, inefficient lamps, fans, air conditioners, and computers were replaced with more energy-efficient alternatives to reduce the energy demand by more than 25%.

Thereafter, a 17kW on-grid rooftop solar power plant was commissioned in September 2014. Just with this system, SAICE was able to meet its electricity needs and even export an excess of 700kWh into the power grid during the first month of operation.

The experience and data gathered from this installation led to the formulation of the grid-connected rooftop solar regulation by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) for Goa and Union Territories of India.

In January 2015, SAICE, along with the local government and the electricity department, initiated a pilot project to test the concept of group net metering. SAICE installed an additional 33kW of on-grid rooftop solar energy. This would enable the system to produce an average of 6,500kWh of electricity/month, three times its present consumption. The idea was to use the excess electricity to compensate for the electricity consumption of other Ashram buildings.

Now, SAICE has a total installed capacity of 50kW. It generates three times the electricity consumed and saves on the electricity bill that used to be around INR10,000/month. It is estimated that the solar system would generate 1500MWh over two decades, which will avoid 1.1 million tonnes of coal burnt in thermal power plants and avoid carbon dioxide emissions to the tune of over 1,000 tonnes.

To add to the benefits mentioned above, schools have an advantage when using solar energy compared to other buildings. Their maximum energy usage is only during the day when the solar panels are at their peak performance!

Hopefully, the success of this project serves as a model for other schools to follow.

Phase I

Location Pondicherry
Owner Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Capacity 16.8 kW
Number of panels 60
Type of panels Poly-crystalline
Panel Wattage 280W
Orientation South
Inverter 15 kW
Average units per day 75
Average units per year 27,500
Date of commissioning September, 2014

Phase II

Location Pondicherry
Owner Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Capacity 33 kW
Number of panels 118
Type of panels Poly-crystalline
Panel Wattage 280W
Orientation South
Inverter 30 kW
Average units per day 150
Average units per year 54,750
Date of commissioning January, 2015