According to reports, R.R Balasundharam is a happy man. From Rs. 2,400 his electricity bill has dropped to Rs.100. All thanks to the 1.6 kilo watt solar panels that stand on the terrace of his house-cum office. The President of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Coimbatore, says that he got the idea from a corporate company he visited last year, that used solar energy.
All electronic equipment in his office and home, except the air-conditioner, run on solar energy. “When you buy solar panels, you get an inverter and a battery. When the power goes off in the evening, we use the power stored in the batteries.” The installation of these panels cost him Rs. 2.5 lakh. However, there has been no other expenditure after that, says Balasundharam. “The raw material, the sun, is free! So, except for two months during the rainy season, the panels work for the rest of the year,” he explains.
Life has become easier for his wife Hemalakshmi, too. “Continuous power cuts made it impossible to store food in the fridge. I had to think long and hard before I planned meals. Now, life is simpler. I can cook food for two or three days and store in the fridge.”
The sun is a non-polluting source of energy. It does not release carbon dioxide, says Shreegopal Maheshwary, an industrialist.
Shreegopal used a diesel generator before he installed the solar panels, to run the electronic devices at home and at work. “However, I could not afford it for long. That would cost me at least Rs. 25,000 per month.” So he installed a five kilo watt solar panel. “Now the appliances, including the computers, run on solar panels whenever there is power shut down. There is no maintenance cost. ”
A few things need to be kept in mind while going in for solar panels, advises businessman R. Palaniswami, who also uses solar panels .
“The solar panel should last for at least 20 years. Do not buy from manufacturers who assemble the inverter, battery and panels from different sources and sell them at high prices. Regularly wipe off the dust from the panels as it affects the process of conversion of heat energy into electricity.”
R. Raveendran, Secretary of RAAC, says one of the main reasons they installed solar panels at home was because of the hours of sleepless nights they had, thanks to the power cuts. “That is why we installed the solar panels, so that we could get a good night’s sleep!”
What about the cost factor? Raveendran argues that panels, with a capacity of 100 and 200 watts, are available in the market at reasonable rates. “These are available along with the UPS at a rate of Rs. 30,000. This is enough to run the lights and fans.”
In his house the mixie, grinder, fans and lights are connected to solar panels, with a capacity of 400 watts. His electricity bill has reduced by 30 per cent in the last six months. “I had to bear only the initial cost. It is maintenance free and there are no safety issues,” he says. Spending money on solar panels should be seen more as an investment.
“When we build a house, we waste so much money on luxuries. Instead, if we invest in solar panels, we can contribute to solving the power crisis and help those who cannot afford power.”
Solar power is the next big solution to the power crisis facing the state, says A. Thangavelu, The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board Chief Engineer.
“There are many Independent Power Producers, who have come forward to take up solar panel projects. The state government has also released a tender this year to generate at least 286 mega watts through solar energy. If this deadline is met, the power scenario in the city will improve. ”