Sunlit, even after midnight
Angshuman Majumder: What is the scenario of renewable energy for domestic use? A. Sen: We hear the government subsidises the purchase and installation of gadgets. Debashree Chakrabarty: What are the chief disadvantages? Debashree Chakrabarty: Do we need a licence for installing such gadgets? S. Mondal: Is supply possible round-the-clock?
- Published 26.04.04
S.P. Ganchaudhuri, director, West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) and special secretary, power department, met readers of The Telegraph at his office to answer their queries. Participants included Sanjana Basu, Subhasis Chakraborty, G. Laha, P.N. Dasgupta, Angshuman Majumder, D. Ghosh Choudhury, A. Sen, Debashree Chakrabarty and S. Mondal
Angshuman Majumder: What is the scenario of renewable energy for domestic use?
Renewable energy is the energy of the future. By 2020, it will be a major source of energy in everyday use. Now, though, we are using only four per cent to five per cent of this energy for meeting our power demand. But if there is a hike in the price of electricity from conventional fuels, people will be forced to accept this energy as an ultimate source. In the past five years, the sale of solar-powered goods has shot up to Rs 60 crore from Rs 2 crore in 1999. Though rural electrification has been our prime target till now, several suburban houses and even some in the city are using this power.
A. Sen: We hear the government subsidises the purchase and installation of gadgets.
A few years ago, when the concept of using such power was popularised, many lost interest because of the high initial cost of the gadgets. In a simple solar light-generation process, one has to invest in a solar module to generate energy, apart from a converter to charge the battery. But now, as the cost of all these products has come down, the government has withdrawn some of its subsidy schemes. However, subsidy is given to people consuming a higher degree of solar energy. For instance, subsidy was earlier given for a lamp of six to eight watts. Now it is extended to consumers using 20-watt lamps and above. Each year, we get the subsidy from the government and select applicants for the scheme. This year, nearly 20,000 people will get the subsidy. We also extend a subsidy to those using other forms of renewable energy, like bio-gas-powered generators or the hybrid generators that run on husk and agricultural waste.
Debashree Chakrabarty: What are the chief disadvantages?
In case of solar power generation, optimum sunshine is needed to get the required current and voltage to charge the batteries. In general tropical zones like our state, we get the required sunshine for about eight to nine months a year. If we can trap this energy, we can save a lot of coal and other non-renewable sources of fuel.
In many cases, we notice that users are not taking proper care of the gadgets and, thus, fail to get the optimum power.
Debashree Chakrabarty: Do we need a licence for installing such gadgets?
Not unless the power is generated on a large scale. According to the Electricity Bill, 2000, one can generate power from non-conventional sources and even sell it. In fact, we are implementing this method at Rajarhat. That project will be the role model for the country.
S. Mondal: Is supply possible round-the-clock?
In the rural areas, people need power for about six or seven hours a day and that, too, after sundown. But in a city, we need a 24-hour supply mechanism. We are working out a power management technique to overcome this difficulty. We plan to use a dual method of supply. The conventional grid power will be added with the solar and other non-conventional power sources to ensure 24-hour supply. But that will be done in case of an acute shortage of conventional power, which we expect will surface before 2010.