According to reports, the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is charting out an action plan for extensively exploiting the solar energy potential to tackle the power crisis gripping the State.
Official sources told The Hindu here that a high-level expert panel appointed by the board is holding weekly meetings to scrutinise the successful models set up in different parts of the country for preparing a detailed project report by mid-November. As a proven technology, it has been envisaged to adopt the solar technology at present and then move on to other sources like wind and tidal power in due course.
Noted exponent of the people’s science movement R.V.G. Menon had made a detailed presentation at a high-level meeting conducted by the board on October 11 on the sustainable energy scenario for the State and what the board should do to tide over the crisis.
He had proposed standalone rooftop solar systems, grid-connected systems, large solar farms on wasteland and canal tops and also floating mounted systems in reservoirs and backwaters, among other places. He had suggested experimental facilities in Peppara and Aruvikkara dams and also environment impact studies before opting for larger systems in Idukki as well as other favourable locations.
Research and development projects have to be taken up in a big way to promote grid-connected rooftop systems. Engineering colleges and other institutions should take up R&D projects for studying the problems that are likely to surface during power transmission to the grid. This would help to permit selected housing colonies or institutions to feed the power through 11 kV lines.
Instead of taking the plunge, the idea is to gauge the outcome of all such proposals and then go in for large-scale propagation.
While scaling up the system, quality of the equipment too is a matter of serious concern. The State does not have a mechanism for testing the quality of the panels to be used for the project. Hence, Mr. Menon had proposed a testing and certification laboratory for selecting the suitable components and promote local entrepreneurs to make use of the opportunity.
High installation cost is one of the major hitches in switching over to the solar energy mode. So, Mr. Menon had suggested adoption of the cost-effective option for the time being.
A subsidy should be extended in the initial phase. A people-friendly tariff revision strategy was also suggested, the sources said.