Visaka Industries Limited (VIL), which recently launched the hybrid rooftop solar product called ATUM, has collaborated with renowned innovator and education reformist, Sonam Wangchuk, for a pilot project in Ladakh.
The solar battery house has been built to protect the Indian Army from the freezing winters in Ladakh. The solar battery house will be roofed with ATUM. ATUM can also be managed on a smartphone.
According to the company’s statement, the battery house, an innovative design by Sonam Wangchuk, uses indigenous materials for passive solar heating for buildings.
“ATUM is India’s first patented integrated solar rooﬁng solution that serves all the functions of a traditional roof while giving 20% more installed capacity than conventional solar panels in the same space. Made to withstand heavy snowfall, ATUM can bear loads of up to 450 kg/sq feet and can regulate temperature with higher efficiency,” claims the company.
For the project, the company provided four ATUM panels that can generate 1.3 kW of electricity for a single battery house pilot project. The walls of the house are made of mud, acting as a thermal conductive shelter for the soldiers.
The company spokesperson told Mercom that ATUM solar panels generate solar energy like conventional solar systems, and it also serves as a roof.
When asked how economically viable is ATUM, he said, “ATUM is very viable as a product as it serves dual purposes – roof and solar panels. An investment in ATUM can have a payback in about five to six years. This includes payback for your roof as well which is generally a sunk cost. Along with these features, ATUM gives protection against rain, water, and fire, as well. The lifecycle economics of ATUM work better as compared to a conventional roof along with solar panels.”
Commenting on the project, Wangchuk said, “We hope that this will not only become a solar roof but a solar roof that shelters our forces who normally feel very cold in the Ladakhi temperatures. Another novel idea that we are using is the batteries of a battery house as a thermal mass that will keep the heat of the day to last throughout the night.”
Vamsi Gaddam, joint managing director of Visaka Industries, added, “As Ladakh is not connected to the national electricity grid, ATUM aims to provide consistent renewable energy supply to our soldiers. Addressing both roofing and power requirement issues, with ATUM, we can make choices that can save our wallet, planet, and the future of the coming generations.”
Visaka Industries and Sonam Wangchuk plan to replicate the project in other residential establishments in Ladakh, states the company.
The company spokesperson added that the locations of other projects “will be decided after the successful operation of the first project.”
Leh and Ladakh are two of the most challenging and inhospitable terrains in the country. In January 2019, Mercom reported that after 72 years of Independence, Leh and Kargil were finally connected to the national electricity grid. According to PowerGrid, Ladakh was successfully connected to Kashmir through a 220-kV transmission system.
Later, in another step to provide energy access in difficult terrains of Jammu and Kashmir easier, the agency issued a tender for setting up of 2 MW of solar power projects in the state. The two solar projects capacity of 1 MW each will be located at Indian Army posts in Siachen and in Partapur.
Image credit: Visakha Industries (In pic—Sonam Wangchuk and the battery house)
Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.