As mentioned in one of my previous articles, here is the first article of a series of guest posts. Author of this article is Raghavendra Ijjada, has spent more than a decade in software industry after obtaining Masters in Engineering from IISc, Bangalore. He has recently developed the hobby of experimenting with Solar Energy and trying to bring it to the general public. He currently works for Yahoo! as an Engineering Manager.
What is Solar Electricity?
If you are living in any major Indian city like Bangalore, it is unlikely that you haven’t seen a solar water heater working. It is a cool technology where ‘Solar Thermal’ energy is captured by a collector to heat water. There is another sexier way of using the energy from sun. This one is not by using the heat, but by converting light into electricity using silicon based panels. This electricity, called Photo Voltaic Energy, can be used to power several household/industrial appliances/equipment. This is the same technology that is used to power satellites.
Why Solar Electricity?
More than 80% of the electricity provided by the government/private power plants is produced by ‘burning’ fossil fuels/coal. Unfortunately, this is the cheapest option and the entire infrastructure is there to support this in a big way. Secondly, billions of liters of petrol/diesel and natural gas is getting burnt on the roads in our vehicles. Even if you use electric cars, most probably you are using the power generated by burning fossil fuels elsewhere.
Do you see that this makes our life miserable like a slow poison? Pollution (sickness), global warming and power cuts. The problem can only worsen over next few decades. Going this rate, we will make the lives of our future generations, more miserable. Other alternatives have their disadvantages too. Hydro Electricity is limited and has serious side effects on ecology. Nuclear power has the safety risks and the fuel used (Plutonium) is extremely rare – well, you have to import it. That leaves us with two ‘clean’ options: Solar and Wind Power. Both of them are non-polluting, no side effects and never ending. Generating wind power is bit tricky and involves lot of physical space & initial investment.
That leaves us with Solar Power, which can be produced literally anywhere in India throughout the year. There are
– no moving parts involved
– no sound
– no by-products/pollution
– no maintenance (except cleaning the dust once in a while)
– no depreciation – very long life of at least 25years once a panels is installed
– and absolutely no side effects
The best part is that you can install a bunch of Solar Panels on your roof top and reduce/stop dependency on the power supplied by the Electricity Board (grid). Even further, you can start using solar power with a mere Rs.1K, just to power one table lamp.
What is stopping us from switching to Solar Power?
Well, if it is so great, why are we not using it left and right? Why don’t major players switch to Solar? Why don’t car manufacturers switch to Solar powered electric cars? There are three major reasons so far:
- High initial investment: The solar panels cost anywhere between Rs.150-Rs.200/watt by the time they come to the end user. That is mainly because of the ‘volumes’ than anything else. It is coming down and you can expect it to come down by 50% in next 2 years. Remember that not too long back a (low powered) laptop used to cost a lakh. If you want to completely switch to Solar Power, it would cost anywhere between Rs.1-10L based on your usage. Luckily, unlike other technologies, we have the option of going granular, just one light at a time.
- All the big people have already invested several billions in other technologies. For them, switching to a newer technology doesn’t make any sense from financial perspective. This applies even to the government.
- Lack of awareness: In coming 2-3 years, this would be the major reason why people don’t use Solar Power. There are many ways this energy can be used, without investing lot of money.
Through this article, in next couple of postings, we would like to address this 3rd point. Instead of sitting and complaining, let us see how we can make some change in a meaningful way, without spending lot of time and money. Solar is one technology where India must lead. Watch out for the next post to know more details how we can effectively use the solar energy for our day to day needs.
Utility businesses could possibly also deliver a rebate.
The straight panels, or flat plate collection systems, will need
a lot less space compared to systems made with electricity-generating photovoltaic cells.
Some of you are experienced cold weather camping and some of you may
not have ever been camping in the cold, however with the
right training and equipment everyone can enjoy cold
weather camping. In addition, there are no types of recurring costs.
A grid-tied solar electric system also requires an array DC disconnect, which
is essentially a switch that allows you to stop the flow of electricity from
your solar panels. Training for the pasma towers in which our experts.
Prem Chand Thakur says
I would like to have my two bed room flat to be solar powered.I live in Solan H.P
and have great sunny days through out the year from down to 3pm.Iwould like to light
5 bulbs, 1 heater for winters only and one solar water heater.Can suggest the app cost
as well specified solar panells tostart with . thanks
hi you are very great
Raghav is my colleague and i appreciate this article. I wish we could move to using solar and wind energy at a faster rate to bring down pollution and consumption of other limited natural resources.
Kiran Pandrangi says
yeah.. hope it reach the masses and everyone starts thinking towards going green 🙂
We had planned to use solar power for a small motor driven fountain in our pond, and went to a shop specifically for solar power equipments. The sheer price of the equipment let us down… Hopefully the costs will come down in the future…?!
True.. that is very much the case because of the minimal production and high cost. Once the mass production starts the prices will come down… hope some better cost effective technology brings down the price.
u know i have a cousin who is doing some research on manufacturing solar cells more efficiently in Michigan right now according to him thats one of the major reason it has not taken off in a way it should have
hope something comes out soon
Yes Monika.. it is indeed the much needed break through for us. Hope the innovation brings down the cost considerably so that everyone can switch over to Solar Energy.
Kudos to people like you and Raghav for taking this initiative to create an awareness regarding SOLAR ENERGY. As i read one of your reply to a comment.. how much is 27k? And yes, i am going to check that link too.Thanks ….you really come up with very informative posts.
Hi Kavita, thanks for all your support and encouragement. Sorry for having used jargons.. 27k is 27,000/- (of course I was talking about INR 🙂 ). I am glad you liked this topic!
Roshmi Sinha says
A very good post with some great info on ‘Solar Energy’. Unfortunately in India we fail to harness this vast and omnipresent resource. We also fail to harness wind energy and harvest rain water. Sadly! But… there is no dearth of lip service paid to all these topics…
Like Raghav has pointed out in the article, ‘AWARENESS’ has taken the back seat. We need to spread this kind of info to make everyone think about and act accordingly.
Recently my friends developed one such solar panel for the Govt. School where we teach. Such a low-cost simple idea yet it made the lives of those kids so much better.
All it takes is simplicity. Nice article Raghavendra 🙂
Rohita, would like to hear about it.. can you plan an post on that please?
Raghava is really a great person and his initiative towards green energy is very nice. If you ask me a question like “what would like to comment on solar energy?” I would say ” i want to build a house powered with only solar energy”.
I like Renewable energy a lot, for that matter every one likes it. But few will try it… I really appreciate people who use solar products. Its like helping the nation indirectly. My best dream would be to live in an unpolluted world.
Absolutely! Great dream… hope your dream comes true ASAP 🙂
I have taken enough sweat to convince at home, to switch to SOLAR. Now, am forwarding this post to my Hubby and Father-In-Law so I can first spread the awareness at home. 🙂 This article is quite a nice one to begin with to understand.
Hey, question. This might sound very silly, but something I had in mind, when I was arguing on this subject…What will happen when its rainy and cloudy days? Will the energy be stored, so it cab be utilised in the same way…
R u laughing at this question?
Shruti, read my earlier article on Solar Water heaters for which the link is provided at the beginning of this article. For a 200 ltr solar heater, it costed me about some 27k, four years back. Now my monthly power bill doesn’t go beyond Rs 400!! Also KPTCL/BESCOM provides a discount of Rs 40/- on your monthly electricity bill provided you have the Solar water heater… Apart from being environmental friendly, you are saving some money on a monthly basis too.
Your question is very valid. Even during cloudy days, all it needs is a bit of sun light for about 3-4 hours!!! When the water gets heated up, it will be stored with thermal insulation. So, water remains hot for next day! On a heavily clouded day when there wasn’t much sunlight, you can rely on electric geysers… believe me, I don’t need to switch for more than 10 days through out a year in Bangalore!!!
Thanks a ton!!! This article has and is helping me. I have some points to talk at home in the evening…I really want to switch to a solar heater….Thanks-Thanks!
You are most welcome! May be sometime soon into solar electricity to light up your home as well 🙂
This is one of the common questions. If you are talking about Solar Electricity, you can go for a solutions with 3 day backup. So, even if there is no sun for 2 days, you can still use the stored electricity.
Solar power is widely in use in my part of the world (Australia). I have been looking for more info on the same lately to make the big switch like many of my neighbors have.
Am looking forward to the second post to grab some info on the range of products for home use. Keep up the good work. Cheers!!
Nice to know you and your interests on this solar energy. Sure, watch out for the next post in a day or two 🙂
Me too… looking for the next post on the products that we can use at home 🙂
yup.. you will get to read more in the next article 🙂
I am glad that some people like you are making efforts to work on bringing in the awareness about the natural renewable source of energies. I am looking forward for the day to day instruments that we can use with the help of solar panels.
Our pleasure! many a thanks to Raghav for this thoughtful insights on the solar electricity.
Ah! I was thinking of trying few such options lately!! Solar power was the last thing though 🙂 Since I see my company always shouting go green, go green.. I just thought of taking this initiative to my home too. Was thinking of rain water harvesting at my place.. hv just thought of doing it.. lets see when it materializes.. but would love to knw more on solar power as that wud be my next target! Good topics Mohan.
it is nice to hear that organizational driving force to bring in awareness towards going green! Good thought you have and watch out next article or two for more information.
Govt of Karnataka has started a programme to make it a mandate for all the sites in Bangalore site which measure beyond 30′ x 40′ need to have the rain water harvesting installation. I am happy to see that someone out there is thinking on these lines 🙂
Darshan Shroff says
There is a very relevant website called greenpeace for the above article.
Yes, I am aware of it. thanks for sharing the link 🙂
I have a few questions. What is the return on investment? it usually takes many years.
Does Manmohan Singh’s solar mission improves the situation?
I will cover that in the next post. But to give a short answer, ROI could be anywhere between 1 year to 20 years based on the application! Apart from the central solar mission, states have separate solar policies. Again, their impact greatly depends on the application.
Parimala Shankaraiah says
A very good post on creating awareness in the Solar Energy arena. Will look forward to more on solar electricity.
Sure, as mentioned, there will be detailed info on available options which are cost-effective as well!
Nice one .. we all can join hands and make a difference. Looking forward to the next one 🙂
Nt read the post fully but Raghavendra Ijjada got me here 😉 He is my ex-colleague and a wonderful person 🙂 Off to read the post nw 🙂
Yay!!! he is my colleague now + cab mate 🙂
Oh wow! Small world 😉
yup.. it is indeed small 🙂
Nice to hear from you. Thanks for the kind appreciation.