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Solar Solutions for Housing

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The mammoth task of taking electricity to every village of India has finally been achieved, the government of India recently announced. The challenges still remain though. Sachin Shigwan explains why going solar is the way forward

2015, Under Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana,(phase 1)government had promised that all villages will have power, but the government still faced challenges. In order to fix this new scheme called “Saubhagya” - Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (phase 2) was started, which will give access to electricity to poor people from rural India and pave their path for development. To achieve this plan successfully, government will have to install solar grids to connect every home in remote villages.

The current global energy landscape differs greatly from what it looked like a decade ago. The world is seen transitioning towards solar energy in a quiet but fast pace, driven by various factors for the last ten years. Considering this, in India, we need to increase the proportion of solar power in our energy mix. The government needs to take several steps to ensure clean energy future for the country. We can say a recent International Solar Alliance Summit is one of the steps in it. In the recent summit jointly hosted with France, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of achieving 100 GW (gigawatt) of solar power by 2022.

India has a number of benefits in harnessing solar energy, and the key resource is at a premium – land. In order to attain exponential growth in generating solar energy, government will have to work on the complicated land ownership policies and the overall restriction on available spaces. Along with this, government has to ensure that better and affordable solar technology is available to all and accessible to everyone.

Here, we are discussing few solutions that are a deterrent to massive growth of installed solar capacity.

Use of Government Land:
Utilisation of large government-owned lands and deserts for massive solar farms. Government can also start installing solar energy plants on their own land around highways, railways and waterways (canals and dams).

Promote setting up of micro-solar power generating units:
These small scale solar farms can help and support localised communities to develop. By developing such micro grids, they can save on electricity and earn addition revenue using their own property. Excess power generated from these grids can be fed into the national grid. Corporates can set up such micro-grids in the rural regions with the help of their CSR funds, which will help government to reach their target.

Solar on Rooftop:
India is an urban country, where we find many vertical structures with proper rooftop available, which can be used to harness Solar Energy. Government can start utilising this and expect 40% of their target of 100 GW coming from Rooftop Small Grid installation. This type of installation is now popular in many co-operative housing societies as they can save on electricity. They can also promote such activities at their government offices and hospitals.

Role of Housing Societies:
Government’s target is of 100 GW of solar power. Of this, 60 GW is achievable from conventional energy and 40 GW from rooftop solar installations which is lagging behind. Housing societies play a vital role in contribution of solar energy generations by installing solar panels on their rooftop. This will not only benefit the housing societies but also help govt achieve their target of solar energy.   

Benefits of solar installation to housing societies:
a)      Societies become independent in terms of power
b)      Initially, there is cost of installing solar unit but they will start saving on utility bills immediately
c)       In some regions, societies can feed energy into the grid and receive credits
d)      Increases property value
e)      Maintenance costs are very low
f)       Long-term energy and ecological security by reduction in carbon emission

In simple words, setting up of solar units is more beneficial to the housing societies in terms of additional income, reduced expenses (electricity payouts), and improves the value of assets. Societies, who install solar panels, enjoy more equitable relationships with their local utilities (Electricity Supply Company). This joint venture of public and government will definitely make India self-sufficient in power generation.   

(The Writer is Managing Director of Green India Initiative Pvt. Ltd.)

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