Living in a studio apartment in Bengaluru, where space was always limited, made Mathew Samuel and Naseer Sathyala think about how it would be difficult to install solar panels in such small areas. What other methods could people with space constraints employ to save energy?
It was this simple question that has now evolved into their startup SundayGrids. With the venture, Mathew, a Kerala native and industrial design graduate offers people access to digital solar power. The company was co-founded in 2020 by Mathew, Naseer and Tarun Joseph, who isl from design and engineering backgrounds.
Solar biscuit or digital solar is a unit of a portion of a solar plant sold online, which can be reserved by users. They can then get returns or power dividends (called credits) from their biscuits when a group or individual uses it to consume electricity. It is a new method of green financial investment that can aid in reducing carbon emissions by encouraging the adoption of solar energy.
All you have to do is choose the number of solar biscuits you need to offset your power bills. This gives energy credits for every unit of power generated from them. These credits can be used to pay your electricity bills, and you are bound to pay only the balance, if any.
“There are many reasons why people don’t install solar panels in their homes,” Mathew, strategy expert at SundayGrids, explains to The Better India. “These can include financial issues, limited space, surroundings with little sunlight, temporary accommodations, or even the fact that they are sentimental about the roof. Solar biscuits are an option to any of these groups.”
Roof installations can be quite messy. Inadequate or shaded roofs, hurdles in permits and the high cost of setup make solar energy inaccessible to many. So Biscuits can serve as an effective solution and an effortless way to join a shared solar project. You can monitor and keep track of your panels from your dashboard. Commercial buildings or residential areas can plug into clean energy with no setup costs and save up on the power bills.
“We install solar systems on host sites that partner with us, and users can select the biscuits they need from the system. The host pays for the power and the credits are passed to users. This way, users save up on their power bill by adding these credits,” says Tarun, co-founder and design expert of the company.
He explains that users can take a look at how the biscuits are operating in real-time on the dashboard. Even if any issue arises from the host, a security deposit collected from them, in the beginning, will be used to solve it, and the credits will never stop coming in.
“Solar power is abundant, but not very accessible. But now with SundayGrids, my Biscuits pay for a part of my power bill without having to install panels by myself. No hassles, no fossils,” says Sandeep, a software engineer who has purchased Biscuits from SundayGrids.
The startup now has access to payments from over 80 power companies (like KSEB and BESCOM). But the founders say that their first six months were tiring. “Our challenges were technical and compliance structuring related. Word of mouth and social media were our marketing strategies from the beginning in 2020,” says Mathew.
The major advantage of solar biscuits is that they are cheaper than rooftop solar panels. “If you are getting a monthly electricity bill of Rs 6,000, the actual payment will be reduced to around Rs 300, depending upon the number of biscuits purchased” Mathew says.
“More than a luxury choice that only those with independent houses and sprawling roofs can make, solar energy should be accessible for everyone of us, regardless of where we are and the kind of places we live in. With digital solar, that is the leap we hope to make.” he adds.
Price of one biscuit is Rs 600 and it has 10 watts of capacity. “An ideal reservation for a residential building is around 250-300 biscuits to offset the monthly bill of around Rs 2,000,” suggests Mathew.
The company’s pilot project, Project Pioneer, hosted in a residential space in RT Nagar, Bengaluru, with a system lifespan of 20 years produces 300 kWh of electricity every month. The project size is 5 kW.
The company’s next move is to get into public solar EV charging at low rates in the coming five years. “The EV model is still in an idea phase. But in terms of the next move, it is to move up in capacity portfolio to around 200-500 KW range,” says Naseer.
Got some sunny roof space? Commercial buildings can now plug into clean energy with no setup costs and save up on their power bills by contacting SundayGrids.
“What is a Solar Biscuit (Digital Solar)?” published by Waaree on 29 November 2021.
Edited by Divya Sethu
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