Friday, March 23, 2012

Erratic power cuts prompt people to opt for solar energy

COIMBATORE: With no answers to the power crisis in the district, more people and industries are opting for alternative sources of energy. The manufacturers of solar panels have been witnessing a dramatic increase in sales in recent months. "We did not expect a 100% increase in sales, considering the cost of solar panels," said K Muthumani, proprietor of Omega Solar in Uppilipalayam, Coimbatore. People are beginning to realize the importance of green energy, he said. Besides, they are fed up with the power cuts, he added.

Until a few years ago, the cost of a solar panel was exorbitant. Not many people resorted to solar energy then as they felt the return on investment would not be worth the wait.
However, the recent power crisis has forced many to look at solar energy as an option. People are more willing to invest in a panel that would produce 500 watts of energy to light residences, said Muthumani.

Earlier, the panel for each watt cost Rs200. But today, the price has come down to as low as Rs80, said R Gautam, proprietor of Next Generation of Solar Solutions. "People invested in solar water heaters, but the demand for panels was minimal. We used to sell 100 watts per month, but now we sell about 500 watts every day for residential use. Industries purchase anywhere between 1,000 watts and 20 kilo watts of energy," he said.

Photovoltaic cells are imported from Germany. Cheaper versions are imported from China. The panels are assembled and marketed here. With the extended power cuts, Muthumani said that the UPS has not been very useful. However, he revealed that the UPS can be charged with solar energy.

"I was having sleepless nights and was upset with the erratic power supply," said R Palanisamy, a retired veterinarian and resident of Kamraj Nagar, who has opted for solar energy. To light four LED bulbs, four fans and nine CFL bulbs, 300 watts are needed. This would cost Rs1.2 lakh, he said. 

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