Powering India- Solar way

“Q: What are your plans for promoting solar power?
A:We want to wait and see what happens to the commerce ministry’s decision to impose anti dumping duty on import of equipment.
We have requested for the review. However, we have a limited capacity to manufacture equipments for solar power and cannot look at expanding solar mission. We should make a road map for making equipment for solar power.
Also, the earlier government has left us saddled with pending disbursements of subsidies. We are trying to get some funds to reduce this burden.”

-From one interview of Piyush Goyal, the new power minister, that appeared in Economic Times.

It is disgusting, shocking. I hope Goyal changes his mindset of his former assignment as spokesperson of BJP. He is now one of the ‘bhagyabidhatas’ of India and a billion plus Indians.

While in morning walk some weeks ago, I was surprised to see a billboard ‘we are going solar’ in front yard of a house in the community Harmony in Cary, North Carolina, where we are staying with Anand for more than a month now. I told Anand and Shannon about it. They were in knowledge about the company as some other neighbour had got its rooftop solar installed and circulated a note about his experience. Shannon and Anand also had decided to explore its viability. Anand is really excited about the potential of solar power in domestic application.

Interestingly, a representative of Southern Energy, the company that has provided the solar energy system in the community, visited us just after few days. I had the opportunity to learn from him about the increasing use of solar energy in US for domestic purposes. One gets the reduction of electricity bill. The generated solar electricity gets transferred to the grid. The US federal and state governments are providing subsidy up to 75 percent of the investment. As per the representative, Anand house can have solar instalment that can meet the full load of about 1500 KwHr per month, but normally 40 to 70 percent coverage is good enough for a good return on investment. For covering the full load, the actual investment of about US $ 18,000-20,000 will be required after accounting for the discount.

There is also one other business model provided by another solar power provider company, ‘Solar City’. The company does not charge anything for the installation of the system. The user pays every month the company a fixed amount calculated on basis of his present average consumption.

As reported, the Solar City is growing almost at the rate of about 100percent. SolarCity installed about 270 MW for all of 2013. The management predicted 475 MW to 525 MW of installations for 2014, up to 89% growth over 2013.

As reported,’Solar energy production in the United States is doubling every 2 years. The cost of installation has come down and the spread of a decentralized solar energy network is becoming more threatening to the energy industry each quarter.’

In the houses in my village in India, the solar energy has been providing basic minimum electricity for years for lighting and some other essential gadgets, when we didn’t have grid connection. Even after the grid connection, the power outages are extensive, and those solar installations provide some relief.It is not that India is not moving forward with the solar energy installations. While the current solar power capacity of India is 2,600 MW, government hopes to cross 20,000 MW by 2022. However, India is to speed up.

As reported, in Financial Express,’Tata Power Delhi Distribution, plans to launch a unique rooftop solar initiative that will allow residents of north Delhi to produce solar power and even sell it to the discom at a profit if they have a surplus or do not wish to use it…A 1 kw of solar PV installation roughly costs between Rs 70,000 to 80,000 and generates 4 to 5 units a day. Such installations take up roof space of about 10 to 12 square metres…A 1 kw of solar PV installation roughly costs between Rs 70,000 to 80,000 and generates 4 to 5 units a day. Such installations take up roof space of about 10 to 12 square metres.’

With the stories of recent severe power outages in this summer of Delhi and NCR, rather of the whole of North India and their inconveniences, the rooftop solar system can certainly be the best solution. As much as I know, a huge number of households own houses costing more than even Rs 10 million. Many have got installed diesel generators polluting the atmosphere. They can certainly afford and get installed a clean rooftop solar power system, even if the governments do not provide the subsidy.

As one report goes, ‘Narendra Modi is working on a plan to meet a significant portion of power demands of major cities through solar by 2019. All the power-starved states are to emulate the Gandhinagar, where solar developers rented the terraces of residential and public buildings for setting up solar panels. It now accounts for 2 MW of the total generated in the state annually. The developers pay the house-owners Rs. 3 per unit generated from the latter’s roofs while the state government buys the power generated for the grid.’ Rooftop generation is catching on in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka too. The states are pushing for a do-it-yourself model for house-owners, encouraging them to set up solar arrays on the roofs and derive a part or all of their power needs from these and sell the surplus to the government.’

Some data below may enthuse the governments and the Indian households to go solar:
1. Global solar PVR power capacity grew from about 2.2 GW in 2002 to 100 GW in 2012.
2. Approximately 66% of installed world solar PVR power capacity has been installed in the past two and a half years. And total installed capacity is projected to double in the coming two and a half years.
3. Germany accounted for nearly one third of global(22%) solar PVR capacity at the end of 2012, with Italy at 16%, US at 7.2%, and China at 7.0%. India is not in the list of top 10 countries.
4. The price of solar PV panels has dropped about 80% since 2008 in 2012.

The solar power can contribute significantly to solve the major power problem and to cut down the pollution associated with the traditional power generation. And so,

1. The government must encourage householders, and the power providing companies to solve the acute power problem that causes extreme inconvenience in our hot country for the most part of the year with rooftop solar installations with suitable business models. This is what even the developed nations are doing.
2. The domestic companies such as Tata Power, Reliance Power, or other power providing companies must get involved in promoting solar power, as the solar power will have to be fed in power grid.
3. The government and private companies must induce and incentivise the national laboratories of CSIR, DRDO, and IITs to focus on the R&D part of the commercial application of solar power, in developing the technologies of storage battery, solar cells or hydrogen fuel cell.
4. MNCs such as LG, Panasonic, or Sun Power present in the country are to be encouraged to bring in the manufacturing of the solar cells with the best possible efficiency and its R&D activities in the country.

Let us not only pray the Sun god, let us take the services of Sun god as his boon to solve our acute problem. All the householders can help themselves in solving power problem once some good utility providing companies come forward with their business models for roof top solar power installations.

PS: And on June 20, Graham Alexander, Southern Energy Management, sent his proposal with the data below:
System: 27 LG solar cells panels, with SMA inverter e Gauge monitoring system roof mount installation (inclusive of racking,wire and conduit, permits, interconnection applications and filings. System is a direct grid-tied with no battery backup, and is interconnected through Progress Energy(SunSense) on a Net-Metered schedule
System size: 7.29 kw DC, First year energy production 8,844 kWh
Current Energy cost $ 0.099 /kWh
Lifetime cost of energy with no solar $ 0.166/kWh
Lifetime cost of energy with solar $ 0.055/kWh
First year solar savings $ 1220
Average annual solar savings $ 1459
First year rate of return 9.8%( increasing to 15.9% in 25th year)
Project Price
Total Turnkey Price $ 33, 785
-Upfront utility rebates $ 2,971
-30%federal Tax credit $ 9,983
-35%NC State Tax credit $ 10,500
+Federal Tax on State credit $2 ,625
Net installed cost $ 12,449
The solar installation add value to the home of about $ 21,888 approx.
Environmental benefits will be equivalent to 317,299 miles not driven for a car and 3558 tree saplings planted

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