Lit up with power saving led bulbs, the Solar Comet houses mobile charging points, a mixer grinder, an air cooler, a refrigerator, and even an air conditioner. In the next 20 days the Solar Comet would tour across the length and breadth of the city interacting with various Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) spreading awareness about the benefits of rooftop solar panels.
“The Delhi government came up with Delhi’s Solar policy last year. But despite the benefits that it offers, Delhiites haven’t really woken up to the idea.Till now the uptake has been very low residential sectors,” says Pujarini Sen, climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace India.
Delhi’s total solar potential is 2,500 MW with a residential potential of 1,250 MW. The official target in Delhi is to reach 1,000 MW worth solar installations by 2020 and 2,000 MW by 2025. But as of December 2016, only 35.9 MW have been installed out of which, only 3 MW were residential installations in March 2016.
“We hope that the solar bus is able to play its part in encouraging more and more residents to go solar. In our initial talks with RWAs, we discovered that there are several myths about rooftop solar that need to be busted. There’s a widespread belief that rooftop solar requires a very high capital investment, but with the benefits that have been offered by the state and the central government, it’s not a problem anymore,” says Sen.
In Delhi, a 30 percent national incentive offered by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Besides this, grid connectivity through net metering allows a consumer to sell the excess amount of electricity generated to the main grid and save up on their electricity bills. “One can break even on their investment in four to five years. The solar panels have a life of 25 years and require very low maintenance,” she explains.
Roof rights are a common problem faced by people living in apartments, where the rooftop is usually owned by the family living on the top floor. “In such cases, the RWAs can take a collective decision to install a solar power system in the common areas of the colony,” says Sen citing the example of Rishi Apartments in Alaknanda, Delhi, where residents have pledged to install a 21 kWp system.
“All we need is an open mind,” she says. “Rooftop solar is an environment friendly alternative to coal powered electricity. It has been proven time and again that thermal power plants are a primary source of air pollution causing 1.2 million deaths every year. Delhi is the most polluted city in India and a small initiative to go solar can make the city a little more breathable,” she adds.
Pujarini Sen, Climate and Energy campaigner, Greenpeace India: 8586016050;
Anindita Datta Choudhury, Senior communications Officer, Greenpeace India: 9871515804;