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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

12-year-old Mumbai boy convinces father to go full solar

After installing four sets of solar panels on the roofs of his houses, a businessman reduced his electricity bill by 34%

mumbai Updated: Jun 18, 2018 12:48 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mehul Mehta was convinced by his son Maanav to install solar panels on his four bungalows in Madh Island.
Mehul Mehta was convinced by his son Maanav to install solar panels on his four bungalows in Madh Island.(HT Photo)

When 12-year-old Maanav Mehta learnt about solar energy and its benefits at school, he managed to convince his father to put it to use for their homes and cut more than a third of their electricity bill.

The father, Mehul Mehta, 40, who runs a construction business, installed solar power generators in all four bungalows that his family owns on Madh Island, off Versova in 2017 and has been glad he switched to renewable energy.

“My son was the driving force behind my understanding of solar energy and its benefits,” said Mehta. “At first, I did not understand the returns and impact it would have on the environment. However, within a few months, the electricity bill began depreciating rapidly, and my son would explain to me how much carbon footprint we have reduced.”

Because of solar power, Mehta has been able to go off-the-grid for most of the year, except during the monsoon when cloud cover hinders the sun, and slash more than ₹4 lakh from his electricity bill last year.

While the Mehtas themselves live in only one bungalow, they have rented out the other three for events and film shoots. In all, Mehta has installed 80 solar panels with a combined capacity of 26-kilowatt power (kWp), covering 100% of the buildings’ electricity requirements. On a sunny day, the maximum electricity generation is 35 units per day while on a cloudy day it is 14 units. For comparison, an average two bedroom-hall-kitchen apartment in Mumbai consumes 10-12 units of electricity per day.

The family had help from Devendra Shetye, a green-building consultant during the installation. Shetye said that in addition to the Mehtas’ bungalows, the roads connecting them are also lit by solar-powered lamps. “They spent ₹18 lakh to set up the solar-power system and received a subsidy of ₹5 lakh from the state government,” he said. Any excess electricity generated from the panels would be sent back to the main power grid, leaving the Mehtas with a bill amount for only net power usage.

Before switching to solar power, each bungalow came with a monthly electricity bill of ₹25,000 and after, came down by 34%. Mehta’s son, Maanav had earlier calculated that over its lifetime, the solar panel system could eliminate 646 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions — equivalent to planting 1,033 teak trees. “These details are freely available on the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy website. I have shared this with my peers and teachers at school,” said Maanav, who studies at Jamnabai Narsee School in Vile Parle.

“If large apartments and bungalows such as this can adopt solar power like this, it helps reduce the dependence on the grid and allows electricity access for remote areas. Such efforts boost the central government’s solar mission and spread awareness about the demand for clean energy,” said a senior official from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

First Published: Jun 18, 2018 00:44 IST