Here Comes The Sun

  • Abhishek Behl / FG
  • India
  • Jan 11, 2013


If the Haryana government takes solar power seriously, the power deficit could soon be a thing of the past, believes Manoj Upadhayay, CEO of Acme Telepower Solutions. Upadhyay, whose company will be producing close to 100 MW of Solar Power by next year, says that Gurgaon has a great opportunity to harness the potential of the Sun. “The major challenge is to change the perception that solar power is costly; or that energy can be produced by only the government,” says Upadhayay. India needs to aggressively embrace solar power, because it has almost gained parity with other energy production technologies – including coal and diesel.


In Upadhayay's opinion, if the government introduces the concept of net metering in Gurgaon, whereby the rooftop producers can share the power produced with the main grid, then it would become very easy to popularise this alternative form of energy. The Haryana government needs to emulate Gujarat, which is the country leader in solar energy production, and has introduced the concept of net metering. “In Gujarat many consumers have become power producers, as is happening in European countries,” he asserts.

Making an irresistible offer, Upadhayay says that if the government permits, then his Company can install solar power units on rooftops at its own cost, and sell energy to consumers. A person or an organisation that gets a solar power system installed will not only get subsidy, but also the benefit of accelerated tax depreciation, he says.

     In the next two to three years it is likely that 'grid parity' will be reached, and the cost of setting up a solar power plant would be  almost the same as that of a coal or a nuclear power plant. Referring to a new proposal made by the Ministry of Renewable Energy, regarding the setting up of a 2 MW solar energy capacity in Gurgaon, Upadhayay says that it is an excellent opportunity for house owners, industrial units and commercial establishments, to get themselves an alternative source of energy that is cheaper, cleaner, and offers them freedom from the grid. “Right now we need support from the government, the utilities and other organisations, for the promotion of solar energy, and the concept of net metering,” believes Upadhayay.  “I want the rates to be stabilised at the 2 Kw level, so that roof top producers can also sell power to the main grid. This is already happening in Europe, where solar energy has become so popular that many conventional power plants are being closed. In Germany almost 20 per cent of power production comes from the Sun, and this has helped in stabilising the energy costs,” he says.

When asked why most of the Indian companies were concentrating on Western markets, Upadhayay says that the trend is changing fast, as the Indian market is now emerging even bigger than that in Europe and the US. There are two types of companies operating in this field – the solar panel producers, and the developers like ACME; and everyone is now concentrating on the growing Indian market.

In Gurgaon, which is plagued with power cuts and shortages in summers as well as winters, Upadhayay suggests that solar pockets could be developed in Manesar, as well as the new sectors that are being developed as per the new Masterplan. “The new offices, commercial complexes and malls can be supplied power through these dedicated solar parks connected to the main grid. The power producers and consumers can be given bonus and credits by the utilities, for choosing a greener option,” he asserts.

When asked how the cost of solar power units could be brought down, Upadhyay says that the major cost is the power storage batteries, that need to be changed after every couple of years. “The solar power system that we are offering does not need the use of batteries, as the individual homes would be connected to the main grid. The power need not be stored in batteries, as it is distributed to the network. At the end of the month what is being produced and consumed will be calculated, and the house owner will be billed or paid accordingly,” says Upadhayay. Even if a producer is connected to the grid without batteries, and the connectivity goes off, power will remain in the house, as the inverter will turn into the island mode, he says. Buyers have to take care that the inverters they install have a dual mode of functioning.  

Solar power production also reduces wastage in terms of distribution losses, as the production takes place very close to users, and sometimes on their rooftops. “If Haryana takes solar power seriously, cities like Faridabad and Gurgaon can very soon witness an end to power shortages. The concept of net metering must be taken seriously; it will help the consumers, distributors and even the producers,” he says. The solar option is becoming more important as the production of conventional energy through coal and other means is likely to become more costly by the day.

 “Our Company can offer the consumers/investors and builders a state of the art modular flat pack, which can be installed within 6 to 7 days. The capacity can be from 2 Kw to hundreds of Kw, depending upon the need,” he says. If the government supports the solar initiative, then his Company could set up a captive solar power plant in Gurgaon, that could augment the power production and energy available to the City. This has already happened in Gujarat and Rajasthan, where ACME has set up large scale solar power plants, he reveals. 



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