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Solar power is industry's Plan B

business Updated: Jul 28, 2011 22:17 IST
Himani Chandna Gurtoo

As a shortage of coal and sagging power production targets make industry experts look to alternative sources of power, solar energy is emerging as the likely best bet, though not yet in the league for heavy-duty industrial use.

Understanding the potential, many corporate giants such as Tata group, Videocon, IBM, Godrej, Infosys, DLF, iGATE Patni, and public sector enterprises including Gail, Bhel and IOC have started using solar power. And most of them save over 10% on electricity bills.

According to estimates by consultancy firm KPMG, solar power has the potential to meet almost 7% of India’s power needs by 2022. Otherwise, the coal imports are likely to rise around 30% of the total cost requirement by 2017. By using solar energy, India can save around $5.5 billion on its coal and oil imports bill.

“When the number of lights and water heaters of our manufacturing plants and factories will run on the heat by sunshine on rooftop solar panels, electricity bills have to take a plunge,” said Anirudh Dhoot, director, Videocon.

IT service firm iGATE Patni is using solar water heating in cafeteria along with solar lighting for basement parking area. “All these installations are at very niche level. After understanding the technology it will become the exciting source of energy,” said Sanjiv Kapur, global head (BPO), iGATE Patni.

“In India, the increasing energy requirements are coupled with a slower than expected increase in domestic fuel production. It is a serious cause of concern as we are getting exposed to the global fuel supply market which is volatile and rising,” said Arvind Mahajan, head, energy and natural resources, KPMG.