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Tamil Nadu weavers plan to tap solar energy to run their looms

According to reports, thousands of power looms in the villages in Coimbatore district reeled under 10 hours or more of power cut a day even a month ago.

Though there is relief from power cut now, thanks to wind energy, many of these loom owners are exploring alternative energy sources.

The high cost of grid power and power shortage in the district is making solar energy attractive to the weavers.

One of the owners of a power loom unit at Karanampettai installed five kW solar panels at a total cost of Rs. 6.5 lakh nearly a month ago.

It gives uninterrupted power supply for more than nine hours a day to operate 10 looms.

The weaver received 90 per cent of the total project cost as loan from Canara Bank at 11 per cent interest and will repay the amount in eight years.

Several weavers are visiting the unit to study the viability of the project and have evinced in it.

The Coimbatore District Job Working Powerloom Unit Owners’ Association plans to sign an agreement with one of the solar energy companies here to supply the system to its members. Canara Bank has come forward to disburse loans to the projects.

“We can install the solar panels on the roof tops of the units or in open space on the premises,” P. Kumarasamy, secretary of the association, told The Hindu here on Tuesday.

“Power is the main problem for power loom units. One-third of the wages that the job working units get goes toward power cost,” he says.

Though the electricity cost varies with the number of looms in a unit, the average bimonthly power bill for a unit with 10 looms is Rs. 15,000.

The tariff was increased a year ago. Before that, the bill used to be about Rs. 7,000.

The association plans to have a meeting soon to decide how many of its members will go for the solar project immediately.

The unit owners should have the capacity to pay 10 per cent of the project cost.

Solar systems will benefit the weavers as their dependence on grid power and electricity bill will come down, Mr. Kumarasamy says.

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