India Interior

Rooftops wait to find their place under the sun

| Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on January 01, 2016


Will 2016 see more and more houses, schools and hospitals in the countryside sporting solar panels on their rooftops?

Yes, it’s a strong possibility if the ₹5,000 crore budget announced by the government this week for implementation of Grid Connected Rooftop systems over five years, under the National Solar Mission (NSM), actually sees fruition.

The plans are attractive and, if implemented, could see rural consumers paying much less or nothing for their power needs in the long term.

According to the blueprint, a capital subsidy of 30 per cent will be provided for general category States and Union Territories and 70 per cent for special category States including Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and UTs such as Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

The allocation is expected to support installation of 4,200-MW solar rooftop systems in the next five years, but hopefully 2016 will see a large chunk of these taking shape.

However, in this project, commercial and industrial establishments in the private sector will not be covered by subsidy. The government feels that this section already has other benefits in place, including accelerated depreciation, custom duty concessions, excise duty exemptions and tax holiday among others.

How exactly will rooftop solar panels help consumers in the hinterland?

If you look at how it has panned out for other countries that have given a thrust to rooftop generation of electricity, there are several lessons to learn. For one, it will provide electricity to households even if they are not connected to the grid. And if they are, it will help them reduce their electricity bills as the renewable source can be used for specific functions, including heating water or powering fans and pumps. Farmers can also use solar power for their tubewells.

Rooftop systems also offer a host of other possibilities including serving as an insurance against future electricity price rises, and ensuring back-up power during electricity failures through hybrid batteries and inverters, which are now being produced for all markets.

Of course, in the larger scheme of things, if individuals are able to sell excess electricity to the grid in the future, it would provide an attractive return on investment and help reduce power shortages in the country.

Equally importantly, rural households will play a crucial role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and, in turn, help reduce carbon emissions.

Though villages already show us the way for a less-polluted environment, they will be adding more strength to the resolve.

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Published on January 01, 2016
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