The falling prices of solar panels and wind systems has made a number of people think of installing renewable energy systems on their roofs. The reasons for doing that are multiple such as
1) Rely less on the power grid which in India is unreliable ,has voltage fluctuations and sees massive brownouts
2) The increasing prices of electricity which are rising faster than inflation .They will continue to increase as cheap coal is becoming scarce and subsidies are making distribution companies bankrupt
3) To make a difference in the fight against climate change and global warming.
While European countries give a lot of subsidies towards renewable energy small distributed systems, India does not have a good subsidy system . Most subsidies are being given to large utility scale solar and wind farms . I have argued that to make a difference ,the government should focus on distributed small rooftop systems just like as the European countries have now realized. However the Indian government is not learning its lessons from the experience of other countries. Except for some small off grid solar subsidies nothing much is being done to promote small green sustainable solutions.
Solar Power in India is set to see spectacular growth fueled by Indian government subsidy policy JNNSM among a host of other factors like massive energy deficiency,lack of national power grid connecting large parts of the country,rising carbon emissions,sharp increase in fossil fuel prices in coal .Countries with massive solar markets like Germany,Italy,Spain have boosted solar through Feed in Tariffs which are higher electricity rates paid to electricity generated from solar energy.These countries have changed their policy to support rooftop solar and reduced the incentives for solar farms.These help in distributing the power generation,get common citizens involved and help in winning large-scale support.
India’s JNNSM on the other hand has seen the first phase marked by a number of teething problems like debt financing,absurdly low bidding by noname companies,poor electricity infrastructure.The Second Phase is supposed to ally these problems but the first plans do not seem to be too great.The support for large solar farms will be increased from the current 5 MW cap to 20-25 MW cap.This will lead to only large investors,utilities and companies being left in the fray and lead to lesser competition.Also there is no support for rooftop solar which will help to broad base the reach of solar energy.A Policy which helps distributed solar like Germany will do much more to boost solar in the country than supporting massive solar plants that will only help large companies making the most of the taxpayer subsidies
However citizens are increasingly turning towards solar and wind energy systems even without subsides. Gamesa which is one of the biggest wind turbine suppliers in the world is developing a solar wind DIY Home system for the roof. The company is trying to decrease the cost of the systems which is currently around $3.2/watt for a 40 kw system. The company is trying to remove the chinks in the system to make it easily installable and decrease the cost to make it equal to retail price of electricity.Lets hope they succeed.
An intense R&D effort is underway at Gamesa’s India headquarters in Chennai, where, on the rooftop of the building, the company has put up a demonstration 40 kW hybrid system, comprising four solar panels and four small wind turbines. It has cost the company Rs 1.7 lakh a kW, but Mr Kymal is confident that the costs could be brought down.Gamesa’s experience has been mixed. The solar panels are working beautifully, producing 4-5 units of electricity a day per kilo watt. However, the windmills are not, and there is a useful lesson in it — which is that even on rooftops micro-siting is required. Mindful of vibrations and its impact on structural stability of the building, Gamesa just put up the windmills on end-points of the pillars. Consequently, one windmill is affecting the performance of the next.Mr Kymal says power at Rs 10 a unit is easy and the effort is on to halve it. Gamesa, he said, is also working on a prototype of a small-sized solar-powered reverse osmosis plant that can produce clean drinking water.