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Solar Energy: A sustainable solution to power cuts and rising electricity bills

According to reports, the metropolis glimmers with lights inside its mirrored skyscrapers, its neon hoarding signs, and the ornate street lamps in fancy residential complexes. The glow is short-lived, sooner than later, darkness descends on the big city.

From the construction zone that is Gurgaon, to the posh pockets of Delhi, and in corporate towns such as Bangalore and Coimbatore, intermittent power supply has convinced residents to switch to the most sustainable energy provider: the sun.

Brothers Milan and Joy Chowdhary live in Sector 4, Gurgaon; last year they installed a 200-watt solar power back-up system because their conventional batteryinverter system failed them due to erratic power supply in the city. “In our four-bedroom house, two rooms are connected to the solar system. In the past year, it has performed better than the conventional battery system that is difficult to recharge owing to lack of power. The solar system takes care of lights, fans and charging of mobile phones,” says Joy.

Solar-based power back-up systems, multipurpose solar lamps, garden lights, fans, ACs and several other solar power-run equipment are emerging as a sustainable solution to the constant problem of erratic power supply during the summer and ever-increasing power bills.

Shubhra Mohanka owns Solid Solar, a Delhi-based company that produces solar-powered back-up systems. “Last year, we sold 10,000 solar home systems in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu,” says Mohanka, who is looking to sell products in Jammu & Kashmir soon. “There is a huge market for solar products in these areas since there is neither proper grid connectivity nor consistent power supply,” adds Mohanka.

In spite of their success rate, solar products continue to face limited penetration with a rare presence in the market. “Lack of retail and service networks of solar-powered products is a hindrance. We are largely dependent on direct marketing and affiliates such as voluntary organisations,” says Ramendra Baoni, who agrees that it is not easy for customers to locate solar-powered products.

Baoni, a promoter of Noida-based Bisquare Systems, a product-design outfit, ventured into making smart solar lamps as he could not find any takers for his designs. He switched to direct marketing and in the past two years since he launched his company, ECCO, Baoni has sold 60,000 lamps till date, including 25,000 in Ladakh, a region that suffers from a severe energy crisis. Enthused by the response to his smart solar lamp, Baoni has developed a solar hybrid DC power pack that can be used for televisions, set-top boxes, fans, three LED bulbs and charging cell phones, and comes for Rs 25,000.

VR Mehta, former joint secretary of the ministry of shipping and transport, installed a 2-kilowatt solar power generation system at his office situated in the basement of his house. Su-Kam Power Systems, the battery and inverter makers, installed the solar power generation system at Mehta’s house and are currently developing new solar power back-up solutions.

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