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Solar power the future of Delhi

 Asian Age, Delhi, 20th June 2014

Solar power generation is a long-term solution, but needs scaling up Installed capacity of solar photovoltaic in Delhi till 2013 was only 2.5 MW, compared to over 1,000 MW in Gujarat Viability, high tariff and installation of PV panels remain a major concern The current electricity crisis and intermittent supply in Delhi has once again established the need for switching to alternate sustainable energy options, especially solar power. However, there is still scepticism about its viability, implementation and tariff standardisation.

While many energy experts are of the view that there is a need to formulate a fresh policy to revamp the power sector, others believe that alternate sources of electricity, like solar power, will prove extremely helpful in terms of saving energy. “It is high time that Delhi shifts to solar power generation to address its power concerns. It may not eradicate the city’s power demands, but will certainly provide an alternative to redress some concerns on immediate front,” energy campaigner Anand Prabhu Patanjali told this newspaper. The expert, however, noted the sector’s viability and high tariff continue to remain a concern. Officials in the city administration also emphasise on the need for promotion of solar power generation by encouraging people to install photovoltaic panels on rooftops.

“This could bring about a dramatic difference, not only to the power situation but the per-household electricity bills. The city has immense potential for producing solar energy,” a senior government official said. Another energy expert, working in the solar sector, cautioned that solar power cannot replace the electricity immediately due to intermittence issues. He, however, dispelled notions that high tariff was a hurdle to maximise its reach to consumers. “It is a perceptional view. Once the sector is developed to the scale where hydroelectricity is today, the solar power tariff would eventually lower.” According to a report issued by Greenpeace and Bridge to India last year, Delhi can produce 45 per cent (2,557MW) of its peak electricity demand by tapping only 4.42 per cent of the available rooftop area, much higher than what Gujarat is generating currently. Nearly half of this potential comes from residential buildings.

“A supposed lack of available space for solar PV in a highly-urbanised and congested city like Delhi is often considered to be a key barrier,” the report had stated. Government officials assert that if the model is replicated in the state, it has the potential to deliver 50-100 MW. Mr Patanjali, however, noted the authorities should implement the roof-top solar project for government and commercial buildings first and then move to industrial establishments subsequently. “The residential houses should be introduced to this model last, since by then the solar tariff would come down substantially.” The city government had prepared a solar policy in 2013 but it’s still stuck between various departments.