Government stresses on solar power to meet city’s electricity demands
India is battling with a two-pronged problem of environment as well as energy crisis. Together with its prolonged struggle to remove the evils of inequality, poverty and improvement of the human development indicators, a constant degradation of environment and ecology has become a runaway problem, leaving a large section of the population in the country energy deprived. Like the rest of the country, the north-eastern region is dominated by fossil fuels when it comes to electricity generation. According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), even with an installed capacity of 3.5 Gigawatts, there is still a shortage of 5.1% of electricity for the people in this region. This figure however does not include the millions of people who do not have access to electricity in the country. Similarly, PallabLochan Das, Minister of State for Power, had earlier stressed on solar power and said that the department is working towards enhancing its revenue and considering other options for power generation to meet the demand. He also urged people to install solar panels on rooftops that will help in solving the issue of power crisis.
“In the coming days, the government may even buy the excess electricity produced by residents. Despite having a higher capacity infrastructure, our production gets hampered owing to lower supply of conventional energy. We are planning to install rooftop solar plates in government offices, high rise buildings and apartments. This will not only help in generating additional electricity but also help in people in earning revenue,” Das had said.
The conventional usages of solar energy are through solar thermal where the sun’s energy is used to heat water or other fluids, and can also power solar cooling systems. Another known process of using solar energy is through Photovoltaic (PV system) which is designed to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. The solar panels operate on sunlight rather than the temperature of the city. The system comes along with an inverter and a battery that stores the converted amount of electricity according to its capacity.
The process works in two ways viz. off-grid and on-grid system. While the off-grid system is connected to a battery, the on-grid system here is connected to Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) which is calculated through a metre provided by the department.
In order to ease the process the government had announced 70% benchmark cost subsidy for special category states including Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and those in the northeast. However, there will be no subsidy for private commercial and industrial establishments since these entities are eligible for other benefits such as accelerated depreciation, customs duty concessions, excise duty exemptions and tax holiday, etc.
In Assam, a nodal agency, Assam Energy Development Agency (AEDA), was appointed to act in the areas of New and Renewable Sources of Energy (NRSE) for the state of Assam and initiate all activities to generate roof top solar energy. The initiative would focus on various uses - either industrial or domestic - and especially for the rural, hilly and border areas not connected with the conventional grid. The initiative also focused in disseminating information about the recent technological advancement and already available technology in solar energy among consultants and entrepreneurs.
“We have been the nodal agency for the ministry since 1998 and have been working on several solar projects through different government subsidies. One of the projects is named Remote Village Electrification Program where around 40,000 households, covering over 700 villages were lit with stand alone individual roof-top solar. Currently we are going ahead with several installations that will come to an aggregate of 1.8 MW from several parts of the state which is an off-grid system,” said Mrinal Krishna Choudhury, Deputy Director, AEDA.
Meanwhile, the appointment made in August 2016 was based promoting roof-top solar which is an off grid project without battery backup. It means that after sundown the solar panel would not function. “In our state there is a regulation from the regulatory commission that has limited the consumption to 40% of connected load which is a bottleneck. A reason behind the same is that if everybody starts generating power straight to the grid the transformer might not be well geared up. So the distribution should be on the distributing transformer and not on the individual household,” Choudhury added.
Meanwhile, the government and several departments are working on a policy that will be on tariff basis and net metering policy which will be beneficial for households and institutions and also come in handy during power cuts.
Unlike conventional energy sources, PV systems produce clean electricity. Grid electricity is paid for as one uses it with payments stretching out for lifetime. In contrast, the majority of PV system expenses are paid for at the time the system is installed through the subsidy provided by the government. After that, the energy is essentially free. In strictly economic terms, the rate of return for your PV system depends on three things - solar resource, electricity prices and state policies or incentives. However, there is still lack of awareness among the people as it has been seen that most of the roof-top solar powers are either implemented on government or educational institutions or on commercial establishments whereas, promotion on household levels are yet to be seen. In the present phase of energy crisis in the country, efforts must be made to come up with a futuristic and democratic energy model which is decentralised, distributed and renewable and with the initiation of solar energy in households would help in mitigating the electricity deficiency in the state. Meanwhile, several steps are being taken and it is likely to be seen that the project will be initiated in the next few months.
Though the State’s own electricity generation is around 250 MW, it is getting power from the central sector power generating companies, like NEEPCO and NER. Besides, it is also making purchases from the open market to meet its power demand, which is around 1,000 MW during the off-peak load hours and around 1,500 MW during the peak-load hours.
APDCL’s own power generation
• Namrup Thermal Power Station (120 MW)
• Lakowa Thermal Power Station (157.2 MW)
• KarbiLangpi Hydro Power Project (100 MW)
Tamil Nadu tops the list of solar power capacity with 1,555.41 MW while Rajasthan stands at second position, with 1,301.16 MW and Gujarat third with 1,138.19 MW.
Stay updated on the go with GPlus News. Click here to download the app for your device