Plugging into Solar Power

“At a time when the nation faces a crunch of resources to generate optimum power, rooftop solar plants can be an answer to the growing energy woes,” says Shubhra Mohanka, Director, Solid Solar
As the mercury rises and summer heat soars, power cuts become a frequent phenomenon. Even though the government has planned a host of power projects to plug the existing gaps, several areas continue to reel under severe load shedding due to a growing gap between demand and supply. Data from the Central Electricity Authority reveals that almost 35000 MW or 18 per cent of the country’s total generation capacity of 2 lakh MW was shut down in the month of May alone. Of this, about 25000 MW was closed due to an array of unforeseen reasons, the primary being lack of fuel, reluctance of state utilities to buy expensive power, technical disruptions and damages in equipment plants etc.
With the country remaining woefully short of power supply – a catalyst of economic growth & social prosperity, meeting the rising power demand poses a serious challenge. The country today stands at the brink of a severe energy crisis calling for immediate action. The need of the hour is to formulate policies and innovate solutions that can effectively pave a way for sustainable energy consumption.
 Countering Challenges of Reliability, Accessibility & AffordabilityRenewable energy can help ameliorate the situation to a large extent and become a precursor of change for the power industry which for centuries, has depended on thermal and hydro electric power. A paradigm shift in perception over the years has not only led to the inclusion of renewable energy in the arena of power but also increased investment towards developing renewable sources of energy especially in the space of solar energy. This is the beginning of a journey that marks a shift from solar power being considered as an alternate energy to a more tangible resource that can play a significant role in meeting the nation’s energy needs.
The government under the flagship of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has established the National Solar Mission that aims to set up 20 GW solar power in the country by 2020. Apart from the development of green product and services a holistic integration of the macro vision with a micro approach can go a long way in realising this goal. Setting up rooftop solar plants and micro-grids together with large scale MW plants will not only establish energy security and thrust growth but also empower communities. It must not be forgotten that development is a unilinear process and adoption of the right approach can fulfil the need of sustainable energy and counter the challenges of reliability, accessibility and affordability.Rooftop Solar Power Plant The various rooftop solar power systems available in the market today possess the ability to not only power anything from lights to the laptops but efficiently generate electricity for a whole building, residential society, institution or enterprises. Establishment of such projects lightens the load on the grid and also avoids transmission and distribution losses that plague the country at present. With over one lakh villages still groping in darkness, it is criminal to waste a whopping 30 per cent of the country’s energy in transmission & distribution amounting to the highest energy loss in the world.
Generating electricity from solar is a simple process and setting up rooftop solar power plants such as ‘Solid-Sun Shade-Solutions” an innovation undertaken by Gautam Polymer’s Solid Solar makes it even a simpler process. A rooftop solar power plant works by generating electricity from the photovoltaic modules put up on the roof and feeds it to the building for its internal consumption. A 100KW rooftop solar power plant covers 1500 square metres of roof area reducing the peak electricity demand on power grid and DG sets while simultaneously improving local air quality. When fully powered, the solar system is capable of generating approximately 1.5 lac units every year, which is equivalent to lighting 1500 rural homes and reduces 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the solar plant.
An emission free, ecofriendly and comprehensive solution to reduce the peak electricity demand on power grid, DG sets, the green rooftop on ones enterprise not only generate electricity indigenously but also  reflects a sustainable model of development and promotes green energy through clean resources. Solar power plants can be installed anywhere from residences, institutional buildings, real estate projects,  shopping complexes to commercial enterprises.
The BenefitsInstalling the solar power plant is an one time investment without recurring expenses. Enabling commercial and industrial institutions to go green, the rooftop plants add value to the rooftop that can be used as an open air café, green meeting place etc. The green rooftop at ones enterprise is an excellent way to achieve self sustainability and increase the value of the property. The rooftop systems are also eligible for capital subsidy. As the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy provides 30 per cent – 90 per cent subsidy on the total cost of installation of solar photovoltaic power plant, the total cost of solar power plant reduces the upfront investment drastically. Also solar has an accelerated depreciation benefit of 80 per cent in first year itself, which gives tax savings to its commercial and industrial customers in contrast to wind energy which now offers only 15 per cent depreciation benefit. Solar devices are eligible for bank loans and tax rebates too.
Empowering Communities & BusinessAs thermal power accounts for about 55  per cent of the country’s total generating capacity, inadequate availability of coal emerges as a major stumbling block in meeting the current  power demand. In such a scenario, employing rooftop solar plants not only reduce burden on the already depleted stock of coal in the country but also reduce emissions from fossil fuel-burning plant marking a shift from over dependency  on thermal power to reducing carbon footprints. It will also bring a sigh of relief to the private producers who are presently ruffled by the hike in  coal imports which is likely to increase in the coming future.
Capatalising on solar power through installation of rooftop solar power system on homes, offices or institutions will not only beat power shortages but also make the building largely independent of the  electricity grid. A sustainable energy utility such as the Solid Sun Shade Solution by Gautam Polymers reduces energy as well as  transforms societies from being energy guzzlers  to energy savers. Rooftop solar power systems will help conserve energy and generate own electricity in both residential and business settings.
A Ray of HopeAll this is not to suggest that the present pandemonium over energy crisis  is all gloom for the power industry. However, timely action will only save us from paying for clean environment in the future but will also bring down the burden on country’s exchequer. Though rooftop solar power plants may not be a perfect blueprint for solving country’s current energy problem but it might be a perfect panacea to the country’s power crisis  in the long run. The time has arrived for a strong  public-private partnership (PPP)   and policy intervention by industry experts else, the rising energy crisis might soon cripple India’s growth trajectory.

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