Unless you live in one of the super-exclusive localities in India, power failures will be an all too familiar concept. As you go further into the interiors, frequent power cuts become the norm instead of the exception. And the way the power situation appears, India will be experiencing a major shortage of power in the coming years irrespective of the efforts of the government. Sure, we have diesel generators for back-ups. But with the increasing cost of fuel and the environmental impact of fossil fuels, it’s not the wisest choice either.
So what’s the solution? For a country like India, which enjoys an average of 300 sunny days, the answer is blowing in the air: yes, Solar Energy. Environmental-friendly, renewable, and being completely free, solar energy should be the obvious future for India. It should be the ideal solution for residential complexes like yours to reduce power cuts as well as your electricity bills. All it needs is the will and the foresight to make an investment that will pay dividends in the years to come.
Use of Solar Power in Residential Societies
A wonderful example of a residential complex going solar right from inception is Rabi Rashmi Abasan (http://www.bengaldcl.com/Rabi_rashmi.htm) society in Kolkata. This complex consists of bungalows with each bungalow being fitted with solar photovoltaic panels on their rooftops. In turn, each bungalow is fitted with a solar heater that is connected to the kitchen and bathrooms. These solar panels generate around 60 units of electricity every day – which is about two units for every home. The complex still uses power from the main electricity grid, but the dependency and thus the bills, are much lower. Any surplus energy that the society generates gets pushed back into the state power utilities. The difference between what the society uses from the power grid and what it pushes back is monitored and the society pays the balance to the electricity board. This project was envisioned by the West Bengal government, to showcase how solar power can drastically reduce traditional power consumption in modern homes.
Cities Encouraging Solar Power
Rabi Rashmi is an example of just one project. There’s an example of a city that has adopted solar energy as the way to power its future. No, it’s difficult to guess the city as it’s not one of the metros or even one of the other larger cities. The city we are talking about is Thane in Maharashtra.
Their effort started a few years back when they introduced solar panels at the Rajiv Gandhi Medical College. The introduction of solar heating reduced their electricity bills by a whopping Rs. 9 lakh per annum as it heated around 19,000 litres on a daily basis. Buoyed by the success of this exercise, the Thane Municipal Corporation offered a 10% cut in property tax for those residential complexes that adopt this facility. It was noticed that societies that adopted solar heating were able to recover their costs as early as three years. So successful was the experiment that the corporation has now made it mandatory for all upcoming complexes to have solar water heaters as part of their facilities.
Cities like Bangalore and Pune are other examples where the government is taking proactive steps to encourage the use of solar energy. Bangalore has the largest deployment of rooftop solar water heaters in the country, generating a daily equivalent of 200 MW, with 60% of the city’s household and industrial units using solar water heaters. It also offers an incentive of Rs. 50 on monthly electricity bills for residents using roof-top thermal systems. This is now being mandatory for all new structures. Pune is the other city, which, like Thane and Bangalore, has made installation of solar water heaters in new buildings mandatory. At present, it is estimated that 20 per cent of houses in Pune are using solar water heating units.
Power Solar Equipments for Residential Use
Residential solar panels are available in various shapes, sizes and categories. You should select the panels depending on your requirement and your investment ability. For a typical household that uses four Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs of nine watts, a fan and a television set for six hours every day, the solar panel would cost around Rs 25,000. To run all the fans, lights and other gadgets, the cost would be anywhere between Rs 30,000 and 60,000. And if you plan to install a 100-litre water heater, the cost will be around Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000.
Residential complexes could start with using the energy generated to power the common facilities in: the lawns, the passages, the fans, lights and computer in the society office, the security cabin, club house, etc. You could then move to installing solar heaters for all residents of your complex. Studies show that as much as 25% of a household’s electric consumption is for heating water! Imagine if that cost can be totally eliminated for life! You can also consider replacing your diesel-guzzling back-up generators with environment-friendly solar power. With fuel prices on the rise, this is one investment that can show healthy savings in the immediate future.
Once installed, maintaining solar panels is pretty easy. They are flexible enough to be moved from one place to another. If you can keep it away from dirt and pollution, you won’t need to service it regularly either. All you need to maintain it properly is clean and wipe it regularly so that the efficiency of the panel is always at a high.
IREDA (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) provides soft loans at 2% to domestic users, 3% to institutional users not using accelerated depreciation and 5% to industrial/commercial users availing depreciation. The government also provides an interest subsidy, besides a 5% rebate on property tax. You can check details of all incentives offered by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) under the recently launched Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission here. The Delhi government provides a rebate of Rs. 6,000 for every solar water heater you install.
The onus is now on us. Are we up to it? Residential complexes can take the initiative and use solar power to reduce their power consumption, avoid power cuts and cut down on electricity bills. Although the initial investment may seem high, once adopted the future benefits of solar energy to the residential complex as well as to society at large is simply immense.
This article aims at collating and providing information on using solar energy for residential complexes for benefit of ApnaComplex customers and blog readers. While ApnaComplex has taken every care to ensure the information is accurate, we suggest to please use the information in the article only as a guidance for further discussion and action with help of relevant professionals. If you need professional advise on this topic or any other property related matters, please send your request through our contact us form. You may post your questions/inputs in the Comments section below and we will try and get them answered through relevant subject matter experts.