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Delhi fails to plug into solar power

According to reports, despite facing long power outages, Delhiites still seem to harbour reservations about going solar. The city lags behind several states, especially in western and southern India, in this field.

Delhi gets almost the same amount of sunlight – about 10 months – as these states, yet the renewable energy revolution is yet to catch up here.

Take for instance Kerala, which is building nearly 10,000 homes equipped with solar electricity and giving subsidies to people who install solar panels apart from the Centre’s. Tamil Nadu has gone even bigger. It plans to build 60,000 homes fitted with solar power for the poor every year. Karnataka offers a lucrative subsidy as an incentive for installing solar home systems.

There is one big reason why these schemes have worked so well in southern states: Long power outages. “Solar energy is turning out to be reliable and cheaper alternative,” a ministry official said, adding that many backward states such as Bihar and Rajasthan have come up with ambitious solar plans.

In Gujarat, it is now mandatory for all government homes to have solar panels. Rajasthan government has begun to vigorously promote solar homes in rural areas.

But central government officials said Delhi has not shown much enthusiasm towards this form of energy, so much so that the city government has even withdrawn subsidy on solar water heaters.

A senior official of a private power distribution company in Delhi, however, differed with the Centre’s view. He said the scheme is not popular in the Capital because of better reliability of power and structural bottlenecks in old buildings to install solar systems. “We have not been able to move ahead from the demonstration projects,” said a NDPL official, the company which generates about 17MW of solar power through pilots.

Central officials, however, said that people would opt for solar as cost of thermal power is rising constantly. “In the coming years, I can see a scenario where thermal power will supplement solar energy as it happens in countries such as Germany,” an official said.

Tapping the emerging potential of solar power, many top companies are now selling solar inverters, a smaller version of the home system. “One can buy 800 KVA solar inverter with additional cost of R10,000-R15,000,” said an official of one of these companies.

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