The Tamil Nadu Government has commenced the implementation of its ambitious programme to provide solar-powered lights to 300,000 homes in the State.
Work on this has been going on in the last couple of weeks in the Tiruchi district and 60,000 homes would be lighted in the current financial year, Sudeep Jain, Chairman and Managing Director, Tamilnadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA), said today.
(The government intends to do it in phase of 60,000 homes over a five-year period. The first phase was to have been completed in 2011-12, at a cost of Rs 1,080 crore. Under the programme, solar panels would be put up on the roofs measuring 300 sq. ft. Each unit would cost Rs 1.80 lakh. As the programme is meant for rural poor, the entire cost would be to the government.)
Speaking at a conference on the ‘Dependability of REC mechanism, RPO and power trading in solar industry,’ organised here by the Energy and Fuel Users’ Association (ENFUSE), Jain said that the Tamil Nadu government was also implementing another programme to energise 100,000 street lights with solar power, at a cost of Rs 200 crore. ENFUSE is an organisation which is supported by the major oil companies such as ONGC, IOC and CPCL and the conference was sponsored by CPCL.
Both the home light and street light programme are grid-backed, “the first of their kind in the country,” Jain said.
Jain said that the Government of Tamil Nadu was also very keen on net-metering. (Net metering enables the rooftop solar plant can put in surplus energy into the grid because it spins the other direction when power is being put into the grid, thereby giving credit to the generator.)
He noted that two pilot net metering projects were on—one in TEDA’s own office building and another at Auroville, Puducherry. He said that when net metering became a reality, rooftop solar plants could do away with the costly and energy-inefficient battery-based storage.
Jain also hoped that just as the prices of solar panels have fallen drastically (from $2.5 a watt in 2009 to around $0.65 a watt now), the prices of inverters would also fall.
He said that the cost of putting up a 1 kW rooftop solar plant had come down from Rs 2.5 lakh a couple of years back to Rs 1.5 lakh and said that if the cost of inverters came down, the overall cost would come down to less than Rs 1 lakh per kW. The rooftop solar movement would take-off then, he said.