India is one of the sunniest countries in the world, but the adoption of solar power generation by the common man has been very slow. This is in part fuelled by many doubts, often based on groundless misconceptions and myths.
With more than 5,000 trillion kWh of solar radiation, and 320 sunny days in a year, India has an abundance of potential for solar power. The Government of India has envisioned a target of generating 100 GW of solar energy, out of the peak demand of 320 GW, by 2022. It hopes to generates 40 GW of such solar energy from residential rooftops, i.e. the end consumer.
To push the uptake of solar energy amongst semi-urban and urban masses, a slew of benefits & incentives are being provided to the end consumers.
1. Central Financial Assistance: Up to 30 % capital subsidy provided by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India on total capital outlay.
2. State Financial Assistance: 15-60 % capital subsidy provided by different State Governments as per their policy on total capital outlay.
3. Net Metering: Produce solar energy from your roof directly in the day and relay excess or unused energy back to your grid against energy credits, to be settled on a yearly basis.
4. Generation-Based Incentive (GBI): State-specific GBI benefits are being provided to the tune of Rs. 1-2/unit of solar energy produced.
Despite such incentives, uptake for solar energy infrastructure by the end-consumer is limited. People presume there are several complexities with going solar, and also have several apprehensions and doubts, based on common myths and misconceptions. However, many of these apprehensions are unfounded, with little basis in reality.
Going solar is expensive, and there exists no mechanism for funding or financing
There are various financing options available to the end-consumer through private and public financial arms. Public and Private sector banks such as the State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, HDFC, and ICICI, to name a few, finance solar energy systems under “home loans/home improvement loans” category, at favourable interest rates of up to 12 %. There are also other institutions in the market that specialise in solar debt financing of up to 70 % of the project cost at 11-14 % interest rates.
The key is to ensure that your solar system installer is MNRE-approved, and uses components tested by reputed Indian and international laboratories.
Solar Panels take up roof space and render it useless for other purposes
This is a very common concern. A typical 1 kW system needs about 100 sq. ft. of area. The most standard size in a solar plant is 5 kW, and the average roof size of an Indian roof is 900 sq. ft., which means a 5 kW will use up more than 55 % of your roof space. The solution to this is building super-elevated structures from ground or roof level with an elevation of 8-10 ft. on top of which the solar panel mechanism can be put in place. This frees up roof space and does away with the problem of shadowing from buildings that are taller than the client’s own roof.
As per the Central Government’s order, and special order by most of the States, authorities have amended the building by-laws to allow for such elevations for erection of solar systems. In totality, super structures increase the energy generation efficiency, and even leave the roof free for gardening, barbecue, and other outdoor activities.
Solar Panels only produce about 80 % of their rated output
This is usually because the solar panels are unable to convert all the incidental sunlight that falls onto them into usable energy. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Hence, not all the solar panels mounted atop your roof get sunlight throughout the day. The solution to this is using a mounting structure for your solar panels that moves with the sun’s movement.
We all know how a sunflower moves with the sun’s movement. You can programme this kind of motion into your solar panel frame. This uses an auto-tracking-based system with an actuator and hydraulic motor, as seen in the video below. Auto-tracking-based systems increase the efficiency of any standard solar system by up to 22 % by replicating the sun’s movement.
You need to clean solar panels every 15-20 days, making them a highly labour-intensive asset
Bird droppings, pollution, and moisture are the worst enemies of solar panels and systems. They can reduce a system’s performance if you don’t wash or wipe the panels every 7-10 days. This can be tedious, especially when the panels are atop an elevated structure of 8-10 ft. (like the one proposed earlier).
The best solution is installing a timer-based auto-cleaning system that works like a drip system. It automatically cleans your solar panels every day for 15-20 mins. One would think this would waste plenty of water, and that’s normally true. But, you can use a U-shaped funnel-based piping mechanism to collect the water in one place. The mechanism later discharges the water into a tank for other household cleaning activities, or rainwater harvesting. In fact, by covering your roof with solar panels, the overall heat in the house reduces. This saves on AC bills, and keeps the house a little cooler.
As is evident, going solar is a lot easier and more beneficial than people commonly understand. With the multiple assistance options available in the market, going solar is now a great idea. It’s time to put the abundant sunshine in India to good use!
Contact Solar Universe India to get your site surveyed, and understand how going solar will benefit you.