Thiruvananthapuram: The discouraging response to the ‘10,000 Roof-Top Solar Power Plant’ project, the baby step towards making 25 lakh households switch over to solar power, has put a big question mark over the state’s move to tap alternative energy sources. Only 30 per cent of the 10,000 houses selected for the 1 kW Roof-Top Solar Power Plant project have placed work orders.
“10,000 households were selected, letters were sent out and orientation classes were also held. But the response is alarmingly poor,” said K George of Chemtrols Solar, one of the 25 solar agencies empanelled by ANERT to implement the project. Chemtrols could install roof-top plants in only 40 households. Even big empanelled players like Tata Power Solar Systems have not been able to install roof-top plants in more than 200 houses.
“People expected too much from solar power,” said Jimmy, a service provider for both Adithya Solar Power Systems and Moser Baer Solar. It is not a substitute for KSEB power. A 1 kW solar plant cannot work power loads like fridge, mixie, AC and motor pump. More than 50 per cent of a household’s power requirements will still have to be met from KSEB.
There is also a commercial disadvantage. Even with a subsidy of Rs 92,262, a household will have to shell out Rs 1 lakh or more for setting up a roof-top plant. Then, there is the recurring battery cost of Rs 40,000 every six to seven years. Many registered households were denied roof-top green energy because they refused to cut down huge shade trees within their premises. “We cannot set up solar panels under a tree shade,” said Jintu of Tata Power Solar Systems.
With power curbs about to be lifted, agencies fear further drop in interest. “Why should a household invest on solar power when it gets uninterrupted and cheap KSEB power?,” asked Jimmy.
Forest Act responsible for power crisis: Aryadan
Power minister Aryadan Muhammad said that Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 was standing in the way of the state’s development. “The state has the potential to generate 6000 MW but all that we have managed in the last 55 years is just 2800 MW. Projects worth 700 MW have been awaiting environment clearance for years and are as good as lost,” Aryadan said. “We require these 700 MW to pull ourselves out of the current power crisis,” he added.
The power minister was delivering the special address at the workshop on Energy and Environment – Challenges and Solutions’ here on Saturday. “Power generation suffered ever since the Forest Act came into force in 1980,” the minister said. He said that the Forest Act was standing in the way of installing even small hydel projects. “These environmental groups raise all sorts of issues that even small hydel projects are put on hold,” Aryadan said.
“The high density of population has made the implementation of solar and wind projects difficult in the state,” Aryadan said. He said by 2017, the demand will rise to 4300 MW.
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