Sanjay Thapa, who runs the Dee Bellagio resort in Manali, is a happy man. Despite severe power shortages in the state, Thapa's hospitality business is on a roll, thanks to solar energy.
Ever since installing a water heating system in the resort, Thapa’s company now saves over 75% on electricity bills that would otherwise shoot up by almost 25% during winter seasons. “Our resort's electricity bills have come down from Rs. 100,000 to almost Rs. 25,000-30,000 per month,” said Thapa. Besides, it also acts as a breather from frequent power cuts, he added.
According to the estimates of the ministry of new and renewable energy, the gross and actual techno-economic potential for solar water heating systems in India have been estimated at 140 and 40 million square metres of collector area respectively.
Collector area is the amount of space on which solar energy can be harnessed.Around 6.0 million sq metres of collector area has so far been installed in the country under the solar water heating systems, with a target of 11.0 lakh sq m by 2012-13. In fact, under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Energy Mission, a goal of 20 mn sq m of collector area has been set for 2022. Municipal corporations are looking at providing properly tax incentives for those dwellings where solar water heating systems have been installed.
Also, state electricity regulatory commissions are also being encouraged to provide rebates in electricity tariffs to such users.
“The achievement so far has been modest compared to the overall potential," said a ministry official. "To speed up the adoption process, financial assistance of up to 30% of the cost of the system, loan at 5% interest rate, and similar such schemes are available to users.”