Sameer Jagirdar from Mumbai has zero power bills on some months of the year. Thanks to his decision to switch to solar-powered electricity.
Interestingly, the resident from Kurla says he contemplated the decision for nearly three years before taking the plunge. Now almost two years into the installation, Sameer feels the decision should have been quicker.
“We have a single-story building and, we thought solar power is expensive as it requires batteries and also comes with maintenance cost. But, we chose to consult a startup, and after convincing answers, we went ahead with it,” Sameer says.
The residential society members installed an 11KW infrastructure around February 2019. Sameer said the bills in April and May came down to even zero.
“There has been a substantial reduction in power bills, and minimal dependency on the grid electricity since,” Sameer said, who is also the secretary of the residential society.
Sameer said consulting Truesun also helped them to understand and reduce unnecessary power usage.
However, Sameer is not alone, and many others have started switching to a cleaner source of energy. And they are doing so thanks to startups like Truesun.
The Mumbai-based startup Truesun is helping Mumbai residents and commercial entities bring down their massive electricity bills by almost 100 per cent.
“I am determined to see the change and positive impact on the planet. Working at various levels with communities to facilitate clean chullahs, lights and other areas helped me to understand the balance of environment and economic viability,” Nitu Goel says. Nitu founded Truesun in 2018 but has been working with clean energy since 2006.
“The key aspect of any person to convince them to take up solar energy is awareness. This also happens to be the most challenging part,” says Nitu.
The entrepreneur says the situation has improved slightly, but understanding remains low. “People still do not know if the technology can sustain heavy appliances like the refrigerator, air conditioner and other electrical devices like elevators, water pumps, etcetera. A lot of time gets invested on explaining the details and also showcase projects to build that trust,” Nitu says.
“There are two main factors which determine how much clean energy can you harness. Space, which usually is a big roof and the usage or bills,” Nitu says.
Explaining the math, the expert says, “For example, a Rs 20, 000 electricity bill means 2, 000 units in the meter. Such a requirement needs 20 KWatt system spread across 2, 000 square feet of area to ensure zero dependencies on fossil-based electricity.”
Nitu says that if 1,000 square feet is available, the dependency on solar energy comes down by 50 per cent. “But on the other hand, if the electricity bills amount to Rs one lakh, then the bills come down to Rs 20, 000. So it depends how much space can be spared and the electricity bill that is generated,” she adds.
“About one KWatt of solar cell generates 120 units per month and requires a space of about 100 square feet,” Nitu said adding, “This is generally the thumb rule that we bank upon.”
About the installations, Nitu says only solar panels are required to be set up on the roof. The solar panels get wired to an inverter which converts the electricity from Direct Current (DC) to Alternate Current (AC).
“The inverter then synchronised to the net metre which is programmed to take power from solar panels and pull the remaining from the grid if needed,” Nitu said.
The cost for an average installation of 10 KW ranges between Rs 12 and 15 lakh. The financial aspect depends on the quality of the panels and equipment preferred by the customers. The equipment is procured accordingly from international and domestic markets.
Speaking about the massive investments and cost on returns, Nitu says the invested cost gets generally recovered in the next four to five years.
“It again depends on whether the installation is commercial or residential. Commercial can take three years also while residential entities take 4-5 years. But the life of these solar installations is 25 years and the remaining 20 years are for reaping free electricity,” she adds.
Nitu says the invested cost comes with environment benefits too. “Environmental impacts of 10 KW solar rooftop are huge. The setup can mitigate carbon dioxide emissions up to 310 tonnes and is equivalent to planting 490 teak trees over the lifetime,” she adds.
Many residential societies often hesitate to compromise on open roof space. But Nitu assures that superstructures increase the height of the solar panels installed and can ensure free space for movement.
Nitu says the electricity is generated every single day despite the weather.
In the past two years, the company has catered to different sectors like the residential, commercial, industrial and also educational institutions.
Manohar Mirkar, another resident from Mumbai, says they have planned to install a 100 KW solar power system that would help bring the electricity bills by 80-90%.
Nitu said another society in Nalasopara area of Mumbai reported power bills reducing from Rs 45,000 a month to Rs 1,500.
Manisha Sharma assistant manager at TS Windpower developers, a renewable energy entity, agrees to what can get achieved. “The potential to harness solar power is immense, and the technology can enable to rely completely on a clean source of energy,” she says.
Manisha adds that however, having massive infrastructure as mentioned also comes with a cost. “Such infrastructures can help people get away from fossil fuel energy dependency. But, people should be able to bear the initial costs and also the low maintenance costs that come with time,” she said.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)