Thursday, 15 January 2015

Solar cells on your terrace

Will Haryana’s new policy meet its objective or is it too ambitious?

The Haryana government has made it mandatory for all buildings on plot size of 500 square yards or more to install rooftop solar power systems by September 2015. The order will be applicable to private bungalows, group housing societies, builder apartments, malls, offices, commercial complexes, schools, hospitals — any building, new or old, that meets the plot size criteria.

The government will offer a 30% subsidy on installation costs on “a first-come-first-served” basis.

Gurgaon residents and environment experts are doubtful if the initiative will help realize the objective. The Haryana government in the past has made similar provisions mandatory such as water harvesting, solar water heating, CFL etc but not much was achieved.

Chetan Agarwal, an environment analyst is of the view that while the policy is good, it is an ambitious one. "A lot of work needs to be done to develop an enabling environment for promoting solar energy in an effective manner.”

Section 2.3 of the policy clearly states that “This policy endeavors to create an enabling environment to attract public and private investments in solar power generation and also in creating manufacturing facilities for system/devices/ components used in solar power generation in the state."

A lot of work needs to be done to attract investment and create a supply of high quality equipment for installation. In addition, an entire ecosystem of vendors who can supply the equipment and also manage the generation, do the maintenance etc, needs to be spruced up, Agarwal says.

Section 6-7 of the policy talks about roof top grid interactive systems and mentions three categories that include cluster of rooftops of public buildings, cluster of private buildings in cities and rooftops of individual buildings.

The cluster approach is likely to be a better option as it will provide economies of scale for investment, for installation, and most importantly for maintenance. And individual property owners will get a roof rent, rather than the financial and maintenance burden, Agarwal says, adding that the focus ought to be on the cluster approach than on the individual building approach.

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