Satish Magar is the Managing Director of Magarpatta City an award winning and internationally appreciated model township of integrated development and self-sustainability. It is home to one of the largest residential Solar Water Heaters (SWH) in the country, installed in 7,500 apartments, with a capacity close to 10 lakh litres of water per day. Spread over an area of 400 acres, the solar collectors are capable of heating water up to 60 degree Celsius. An exclusive interview to InSolTherm Times.

Q. How did the concept to consider Solar Water Heaters for your township evolve?
A: We assessed the advantages it will offer if it is incorporated in the project in terms of social, health, environment, economic and other peripheral benefits. The rewards and returns that solar water heater offers are:

  • It was our commitment to provide our customers with a clean, pollution free & green environment.
  • Acts as a hedge against rises in electricity bills to residents.
  • Does not emit any toxic, gases like Carbon dioxide & Sulphur dioxide and will be a cushion to secure emission limits of toxic gases.
  • Sunlight as a fuel is abundant in nature & free of cost.
  • Helps in Demand Side Management in reducing peak electrical equipment ratings. (Transformer ratings , cable ratings etc)

Q. Did you have the confidence that manufacturer(s) would ensure timely completion considering the magnitude of the project?
A: We looked at a reputed manufacturer with adequate experience and preferably based in Pune. They should have the necessary technical infrastructure and expertise to cater to the magnitude of the job and have the technical expertise to design the system as per the requirement. They should be registered and recognized by Govt. Institutions. Quality of product (ISO & ISI) and guarantee on time deliveries was also a criterion. Not to forget to mention that trained manpower is available to ensure un-interrupted operation of the systems.

Q. Considering the high capital investment required how did you manage the finance?
A. We built the cost of installation of solar water heating system into the cost of our building and provided it as an amenity.

Q. What are your salient findings now that the Magarpatta project is completed?
A: I would only say we are totally satisfied with what we have achieved against the objectives set out while initiating the project and we have set a benchmark in the real estate industry on application of renewable energy technologies as a success.

Q. How are you ensuring upkeep and maintenance of systems?
A: As a matter of principle we have decided to form a company, which will look after the maintenance of the system. We have ensured to have sufficient trained personnel that will ensure un-interrupted functioning of the systems. In fact we are maintaining all the amenities and equipments installed in the project including solar water heating systems. It is often observed this aspect is neglected once the buildings are handed over to the clients.

Q. How important was the role of architect to ensure SWH are incorporated as a part of the building plan? Did it require efforts to convince them?
A: The challenge was to provide adequate space on the terrace for installation of the system. This meant that we had to take a decision to retain the terrace and not sell the terrace. We worked out the economics and decided to retain the terrace and provide adequate space for installation. Once the decision was taken, we sat with our architects and incorporated it in our plan.

Photo: Solar Water Heaters installed on tall rise buildings in Magarpatta city

Q. Considering the fact now that Magarpatta SWH project is a landmark now has it inspired other builders.
A: Yes, I would think so and hope so, because most of the builders now in the country are giving it as an amenity built into their project. As already mentioned we set the benchmark. I am hopeful Magarpatta city will inspire the builders in the country to consider Solar Water Heater.

Q. Have you claimed for carbon credits under Clean Development Mechanism?
A: We tried to do it, but abandoned it half way through. The process of claiming credits under Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is cumbersome, difficult and capital intensive.

Q. Has a stage reached wherein any builder has no second thoughts to consider SWH
A: SYes undoubtedly considering the fact SWH provide savings and the savings would grow with time due to rising energy costs. It has become the trend now-days. Moreover the installations are quite successful, though it is essential that there is adequate monitoring and customer education.

Q. What is one positive advantage that should compel all future buildings to consider SWH?
A: The advantages are aplenty as mentioned earlier, but the salient would be energy savings and providing eco-friendly atmosphere.

Q. Where do you foresee room for improvements in SWH for future projects?
A: The most important improvement requirement is probably increasing the efficiency of the collector, thereby reducing the space required on the terrace.

Q. What is the future ahead?
A: The time is ripe for making SWH mandatory on all new up-coming buildings considering the benefits they offer. There should also be proactive participation of government organization in providing incentives.

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