Solar Rooftops Could Help You Cut Down Energy Bills. Know How
The residential housing in India, particularly in the suburbs of metropolitan cities, is being largely built in the form of co-operative residential societies, which provide several amenities with power backup being one of the most important ones. Most of these housing societies or complexes are equipped with diesel generators (DG) sets to supply electricity during power cuts. However, diesel based power supply is not only expensive but also has environmental hazards and severely affects our health. DG sets are being used as a ‘default’ option for residents living in housing complexes. 24/7 power backup is the best selling tool for real estate developers in India.
Considering solar rooftop for power backup can be highly beneficial. Priyavrat Bhati, Programme Director, Centre for Science and Environment (CES) addressed a conference on ‘Solar Rooftop – Replacing Diesel Generators in Residential Societies’ . He says, “With the prices of solar panels which account for 50-55 per cent of the total project cost sharply falling in the last few years, solar rooftop has emerged as a viable option for providing power backup in housing societies. The cost of electricity generation through solar rooftop comes to around Rs 7-8 per unit, which is half the cost of electricity supplied through DG sets. Further Bhati added, “solar rooftops can reduce the monthly power bill of the consumers as the extra unit generated through solar rooftop can be exported to the grid – DG sets provide no such benefit.”
Solar rooftop installation is still new in our market. It needs a major push from the concerned sector. During 2015-16, only 166 MW of solar rooftop was installed, not even meeting the target of 200 MW. However, the targets have been increased dramatically to 4.8 GW for 2016-17 and the coming years to enable the country to achieve 40GW rooftop solar capacity by 2022. Unless concerted steps are taken, meeting these targets will remain a major challenge.
What is holding back?
- Lack of awareness
- Lengthy approval process
- Frequent policy changes
- DISCOM issues
R Srinivas, Town and Country Planner, Town and Country Planning Organisation points out, “Changes are required in building bye-laws and codes.” These are some of the reasons why he feels that the revision of bye-laws is necessary for the replacement of DG sets in residential housing societies-
- Growing environmental concern
- Increased safety and security measures
- Technological development
- Components of Swachh Bharat Mission
- Focus on ease of doing business
CSE also launched its first solar rooftop calculators in India and is looking at Indian subsidy, policy, star ratings and a big data provider for the consumers to know the power consumption. It is a great initiative in the wake of consumer interest.
The advantages of replacing DG sets with solar rooftops are listed below
- Solar energy is renewable and thus there is no strain on the environment.
- Solar rooftop is clean and costs only Rs 5-6 per unit.
- Speedy implementation. Hardly takes a month to install.
- Solar rooftop panels can be used on idle rooftops too.
- As per building bye-laws there is a provision for 70 per cent of available rooftop for solar panels.
- The chances of roof damage are minimal.
Saugata Mukherjee, Head of Group (Solar & New Businesses), Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited says, “One of the key concerns for consumers is the electricity bill. There is a huge reduction in utility electricity bill. It is a one time investment that would help you drastically cut your bills over the next 25 years.”