In a trend-setting move, the Salar Jung Museum will be tapping solar power to meet its growing energy needs. The gallery area of the SJM is 1.40 lakh square feet with an average power consumption of 4,851 units per day. This means an expenditure of Rs 1.43 crore per annum. Seventy per cent of the power consumption goes for air conditioning while the rest 30% for lighting and other purposes. The museum management switched over to LED lighting system a few years ago but could not bring down its air conditioning costs in a substantial manner. So they came up with an idea of tapping solar energy through solar panels producing 500 kw power output. The museum hoped to tap nearly 2,500 units everyday. Officials of New and Renewable Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NREDCAP) conducted a detailed survey in December last year to determine the feasibility of using solar power at the museum and gave their nod to the proposal.
A Nagender Reddy, director of the museum said, “By using solar energy, we will be able to bring down our power bill by 50%. We had approached the central government with the idea four years ago but solar power was not viable owing to the high costs initially and the quality of the panels was not good then. Now the cost has come down and the quality has improved.” Study conducted by a city-based private energy solutions provider found maximum viability in installation of 500 kw panels that would address half of the museum’s power needs. The projected cost is Rs 5.5 crore but the actual cost of installation is expected to be lower as the contractor will be selected through competitive tender process. The management feels that improvement in solar technology and success of the present proposal could pave way for complete transition to solar energy. Union ministry of new and renewable energy is expected to provide 30% subsidy on the installation cost. The museum management is discussing the idea of corporate sponsorship to raise the remainder of the amount. But if that does not work out, money from the museum’s Rs 9-10 crore annual budget would be used to fund the project. While the SJM may be the only museum in the country which may find the idea feasible owing to its sheer size, other museums in the city too are not reluctant to avail solar power.
G Kishan Rao, director Chowmahalla Palace, said that he would consider the use of solar power at the Palace museum after seeing how it turns out at Salar Jung Museum. The AP State Museum has moved to solar power, albeit in a small way by choosing to install solar-powered fencing.