Around a year back, Pankaj Rajpal installed 30 solar panels at his bungalow in Kailash Colony when he decided to make the most of the direct sunlight falling on his house’s rooftop. These chips are capable of producing 5kW of energy and fulfil the power needs for the entire household activity. High electricity bill had been a big concern for him as their power consumption was quite high. He feels that adopting eco-friendly measures like creating a greenhouse, turning an old borewell into a water harvesting pit and installing net metering system brought him closer to self-sustenance.
Net metering is a special metering and billing agreement between power utilities and consumers that connects renewable energy generating systems to the discoms’ network and allows consumers to export surplus power to the grid which helps reduce their electricity bills.
“Sustainable living has tremendous advantages. The cost of living is rising and adopting sustainable methods now will help our children in the future. As temperatures soar, cutting down on basic facilities like air conditioners, inverters, refrigerator etc doesn’t make sense. What are we earning for? But being judicious about how we consume and generate is the need of the hour,” said Rajpal.
The solar panels installed atop his greenhouse help him save Rs 9,000 per month. Although it will take him more than 10 years to recover the cost of installation (`7 lakh), he understands that green is the way to go. Out of 125 consumers in Delhi, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) has helped 82 households, commercial and educational institutions in south Delhi in installing solar net metering projects with a sanctioned load of 2,892 kW in total.
Tapping into solar power is essential. A solar plant usually costs around Rs 70,000 to 80,000 for every kW. Consumers across categories have warmed up to rooftop solar net metering leading to an interesting trend to save renewable energy sources. The residents claim that there has been a reduction of about Rs 6,000-9,000 in their electricity bills after switching to solar power.
“We are not only saving on our bills, but also contributing to the society in a big way. The surplus energy goes to the power agencies which can be provided to places with frequent power cuts. No special care is required after the installation of solar panels and the meters installed on the ground floor make the power inflow and outflow transparent,” said Kanika Khanna, a resident of Green Park Extention.
Both Central and Delhi governments have ambitious renewal energy plans for domestic and commercial use which come with a humble set of benefits for consumers. Experts say that this is an ideal method to reduce electricity bills while allowing consumers to generate electricity for self consumption and sell surplus to discoms.
“The response to this initiative has been encouraging. We are actively engaged in propagating the rooftop solar installations and facilitating our consumers to see their impact on their electricity bills,” said a BRPL spokesperson.
More than 10 leading schools and 16 commercial bodies have taken to rooftop solar net metering in south Delhi. These include Dyal Singh College, Vasant Valley School, Tagore International School, St Mary’s School and Bhatnagar International School along with some commercial establishments in Mehrauli and Okhla.
Energy experts say that these solar panels are expected to save consumers between Rs 3,000-32,000 per month depending on their power consumption and the surplus whereas for individual consumption, 1kW costs around 7080, 000 and will save around 19% of the electricity bill amount.
“This is the peak time when solar energy can actually be tapped. We can reduce our dependence on carbonbased resources and turn to solar energy as our country has an abundance of the resource,” said Aruna Kumarankandath, programme officer, renewable energy programme, Centre for Science and Environment.
She added that the technology can be promoted in malls, commercial complexes, markets, offices etc as these places connsume high amounts of electricity. Owners of commercial services see it as a unique concept that can be used to save electricity and well as money.
SP Jain, owner of a consultancy service firm in Okhla, wished his apartment in Kalkaji had a free rooftop so he could install solar panels the way he had done for his office.
“There are a number of government initiatives promoting net metering. It helped me save more than 30,000 on my electricity bill in a month. And in just six months, I managed to saved a lot. I wish I could follow the same concept at my house, but due to feasibility issues and certain safety parameters, a net meter can’t be sanctioned,” said Jain.