Tamil Nadu Makes Solar Panels Mandatory


Ramamurthy, an 85 year old resident of Mandaveli in Chennai is reaping in the rewards of a decision he took back in 2011. He had powered his 4-storey building with solar energy. Today not only has he recovered the initial money he had invested, but he also has made massive savings on electricity.

“We have 16 bathrooms, so earlier nearly 16 geysers will have to work. If they work for 2-3 hours a day, that’ll be about 48 hours of consumption. Now all that has been saved and the people who are using it have realized they don’t have a huge power bill,” he says.

Ramamurthy’s story may soon be replicated all over Tamil Nadu. The government recently announced that all new multi-storey buildings must be powered by their own solar generation facility. Previously, it was optional to residents.

The recent solar push is a part of Tamil Nadu’s 2012 solar power policy, which aims to increase solar power capacity to 3,000 MW by 2015. Of the 3,000 MW, about 12% is projected to come from rooftop solar.
The government looks to make itself self-sufficient with the move. However, solar experts say that it is a tough target to reach since solar power storage facilities are not currently in place.

Dhanush, co-founder of Solar Town Energy Solutions Private Limited, a group that has been actively involved in encouraging residents to switch to solar energy says, “For solar to be a viable energy solution, we should probably have a storage concept. If we have such a solution we can store the energy and use it at night, which means, we can completely go off-grid and need not depend on the electricity provided by the government.”

The Tamil Nadu government move is a step in the right direction. More and more consumers must be encouraged to come forward.

Arun Krishnamurthy, who is the founder of Environmentalist Foundation of India reasons why people are reluctant to make such a huge investment, “The reason the end consumer is expecting a subsidy is simply because they haven’t understood solar yet. We don’t look at the long-term benefits we can derive and draw from these projects. How we’ve not tapped into solar at the rate at which we should’ve is a cause of concern and of course it is the future.”

Though the government policy is out, the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Authority is yet to draft the guidelines. Authorities have told NDTV that they are looking at giving subsidies based on power generation, but admit that there is still no clarity on the subject.

Smitha TK, Reporter-Chennai, NDTV

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