Solar Energy is one of those amazing solutions to a perennial and growing problem, and even though many of us want to adopt it, the dearth of information and relatively high installation costs kill the urge in the crib.
Our chat with Kanika Khanna, broke a lot of misconceptions regarding harnessing and suing Solar Energy. To give you a little background, Kanika has done her Bachelors in engineering from Delhi College of Engineering (DCE), and her masters from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and has worked with Cummins in the US, in the manufacturing sector.
Q: Hi Kanika, It’s great to have you enlighten us about Solar Energy, and how we can harness it. To begin with, what are the pre-requisites one needs to bear in mind when planning to install a solar panel?
Kanika: Well, all you really need is a Electricity connection and a roof that you own. Typically, a panel generating 3kw of energy requires 250 square ft of shade free space. But if that’s not available, you could build super structures or solar pergolas,for the panels.
Q: How does one calculate how much energy should the solar panel generate, to bring down the electricity costs significantly?
Kanika: We follow a few thumb rules here. Typically, from my experience, a 3Kw panel reduces the bill by roughly Rs 3000 per month. This typically helps you break even by 6 years. A 5 Kw system, similarly, helps you break even in less than 5 years. Since a solar panel system lasts for at least 25 years, this turns out to be a huge saving, as solar energy becomes free for the customer after he breaks even. The savings depend on the electricity tariff in your city. For example, Rs. 10.41/kWh is charged on the top slab in Delhi, so if your bill comes around Rs. 6000, you could save about Rs. 2500 on it. You could infact look up Sunkalp.com’s
calculator and feed in your pincode, consumption, and rooftop space, to get an idea of how much you could save.
Q: Wow, this is pretty interesting! What if I don’t use as much energy as I generate, or I need more at night? What happens then?
Kanika: Most of the systems installed these days, are linked to the grid. So, if you generate more energy, you could reverse meter it back to the grid and earn credits. These credits could be used to take electricity back from the grid when you need it. You will of course, be billed only for the balance.
Q: Is it possible to have a home in India completely running on solar energy?
Kanika: That will still take some time. Solar energy is a good supplement to your existing source, though, since the systems installed these days, offer grid synchronous voltage and frequency. This basically means, that solar systems, these days, connect to the regular electricity grid. So, even though it cannot be the only source of electricity, it can bring down costs significantly, as it costs only about Rs. 4-5/unit.