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IIT-Madras working on new solar cell for domestic, agriculture use

According to reports, the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras is working on perfecting the technology to use solar photo voltaic cell for domestic and agriculture use. IIT-M director Bhaskar Ramamurthi said the institute was working with three private drip irrigation companies on developing a technology that would integrate borewell pumps with solar PV cells.

On the occasion of the 60th foundation day of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Tuesday, professor Ramamurthi said there was a need to meet domestic power consumption using solar power to tide over power shortage in the country. “Residential, commercial and agriculture sectors are most affected by power cuts. It’s crucial to remove or reduce basic electricity needs from the grid. Schools and colleges should all go off the grid and only use it as a back-up,” he said.

He disputed the argument that drawing solar power was expensive. He said the use of diesel generators hiked the cost to Rs15 per unit, which could go up to Rs30 a unit unless used optimally. Inverters are almost as expensive at Rs14 a unit. In contrast, over the last three years the generation of solar power, apart from land costs, is Rs4.35 per unit. This is equal to the generation of power from a thermal unit. Taking into account the cost of storage, the total cost could rise by another Rs4.

He said there were some technical issues with using solar energy which cannot be stored, but which could be overcome in a year’s effort by engineers. He called upon interested scientists to work on making the solar power project a success.

Former director of the Central Leather Research Institute G Thyagarajan asked institutions like CSIR and the IIT to play a greater part in helping small industry players to adopt safe practices. “Where is India’s claim of a huge technological power if it is not able to help hapless people in the cottage industry,” he asked. India’s technological prowess could help prevent accidents like the fire at a Sivakasi fireworks factory.

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