Have you looked at a solar powered calculator, watch, or toy and wondered why more things in your house aren’t solar powered? If you have, you’re not alone. For a country with abundant sunshine and poor connectivity, using solar power to generate electricity for local needs (also called decentralized power generation) clearly appears to be the way to go!
Like 70 percent of Indians, you probably are already connected to the electricity grid, making you wonder if it makes sense to switch to solar. Well, read on to understand why!
What is Solar PV?
Simply put, a solar PV absorbs sun’s energy, converts it into electricity, and transmits it either for storage or distribution, depending on the equipment used.
The panels absorb sun’s energy and convert it into direct current (DC), which is then transmitted to a convertor. The convertor changes it to alternating current (AC) and sends it to the transmitter for being used in the building, or to a battery for storage and later use.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of a solar PV system depends on the type of panels used, the area covered, the technology used, etc. Traditionally, solar cells were made of silicon. However, the material used is rapidly evolving to more easy-to-use forms, such as inks and dyes, which can be used for printing out solar cells. However, the cost is really marginal when you look at the overall cost of the home/construction.
How Much Electricity Will It Generate?
In India, a 1-kWp panel can produce up to 1600 kWh of electricity per year, which translates to about 4 kWh per day.
The solar PV system installed at Mittal Auriga in Bengaluru is a 1.5 kWp, which can save 60-80% of the energy bills. You can take the challenge to make more savings if you use all energy efficient equipment's and are conscious about consuming energy.
What Are The Advantages?
First of all, solar energy is something that is available in abundance. It is renewable, which means we will never run out of sunlight! The regular electricity in most parts of India is generated using coal, which is limited in nature.
Low Carbon Emission
Generating 1000 kWh of electricity from solar PV reduces about 1400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, compared to the conventional, fossil-fuel-based methods. That is the amount of carbon dioxide you would generate if you kept your car engine running for 24 hours, non-stop! (US Department of Energy report)
Thermal power plants are notorious for the pollution they cause. Hydro and nuclear power has its own downside and a potential threat for ecosystems. Compare this to solar PV generators, which have zero emissions during their operation.
The main cost involved in the solar PV system is incurred during the installation, as it requires solar panels, mounting structure, inverter, batteries, cables for connection to the grid, etc. But once this is done, the amount of money you would save by generating your own electricity is enormous. Once you purchase a home with solar power installed, you can just celebrate for the savings you are going to have month on month. If you are renting a home with solar rooftop installation in place, be glad that your electricity bills will be almost negligible.
Has It Been Successfully Used Anywhere in India?
India is on its way to becoming the second largest market for solar energy in the world, with 113 GW of harnessed energy, which is higher than that of the U.S.! While most of these are commercial scale projects spread over thousands of acres, like the Kamuthi Solar Park in Tamil Nadu or the Charanka Solar Park in Gujarat or the Kurnool Solar Park in Andhra Pradesh, residential solar projects are also catching up, as the annual rooftop solar installations in 2017 alone were more than the total systems installed from 2013 to 2016!
What is The Maintenance Required?
The main maintenance required for a solar PV system is to clean the dust collected on the panels and the inverter periodically. The frequency of cleaning can vary from once in 3 to 12 months.
Will it Change The Look of My House?
Most solar panels in residential complexes are placed on the roof to maximize the sunlight available to it. Therefore, chances are, you will not even be able to see the panels from your apartment, villament or villa. Even if you do, the sleek panels will only enhance the look of the complex, and will hopefully encourage your neighbors’ to become more environment conscious!
Will I Still be Able to Connect to the Regular Grid Also?
Yes, you will! This is probably the best part of going solar in India. You will be connected to the grid for electricity supply during the night and on cloudy days. Being connected to the grid also means that when the electricity generated during the day is more than the electricity consumed, it will go back to the grid, which essentially means they are buying the electricity from you. The way this works is that they charge you for the electricity you consumed minus the electricity you sent back to the grid. This is called net metering.
What If There is Excess Electricity? Can I Store it for Later Use?
Absolutely! A few years back the excess electricity generated from solar PVs would be wasted, as there was no technology to store it. But with the advent of technology, batteries have been developed that can store the excess electricity for later use. In addition, you also have the option of selling your excess electricity back to the regular grid.
What if it is Cloudy?
It goes without saying that shade and clouds do not bode well for a solar PV system, which is why it is a good idea to be connected to the regular grid. However, with the number of sunny days in India, you will probably end up generating enough electricity to cover the few cloudy days.