I see a significant number of houses in Germany equipped with solar panels. They take so much pride in using solar energy for their needs. Unfortunately, for them, the sun does not shine throughout the year. For about 4 months (from the end of autumn until the beginning of spring), one can hardly see the sun during the day. What fascinates me is their willingness to make the maximum use of sunlight, which they get only for a limited amount of time.
But, India, being a tropical country, has the mercy of the Sun God throughout the year for at least 8 hours a day. I find it funny that houses in countries, where natural light is a scarcity, depend totally on energy supplied by solar panels (at least during the months of summer), but we, Indians, choose to completely ignore this wonderful God-given gift.
I just happened to come across this article which is about someone in Chennai, who enjoys a peaceful power-cut-free life after spending a little money to install a 1kWh solar panel on his rooftop. I believe that it’s high time that everybody does this (at least, it can help us take a break from constantly complaining about the government for the frequent power cut, for which, actually, we are to be blamed).
The cost of one such unit is negligible when compared to what someone in an ordinary middle-class family in India spends yearly on totally unnecessary items. About Rs. 250/Watt. That is, for 1kW (=1000W) it costs about 2,50,000 and that includes the complete setup. There’s more good news. The government of Tamilnadu even subsidizes the cost (so do the governments of the other states in India, too). About 50% of the cost is borne by the government. What else can we expect the government to do to promote solar energy?! Shouldn’t we stop blaming the government for not fulfilling our greedy needs? I find this initiative from the government extremely appreciable. You can find more info here http://www.hindu.com/2010/06/17/stories/2010061761020200.htm .
Shall we all be responsible citizens and go solar?
Some fundamental technical details, for those who do not understand kWh:
Recap from elementary physics.
Energy = work done * time taken.
Watt is the unit of power and seconds is the unit of time.
Electric energy is measured in Watt hours. (just the product of Watt and hour).
The meter from the electricity board which we have in our homes, is called the energy meter aka kWh meter. One unit in the energy meter indicates the cosumption of 1kWh of energy. What this means is that, if you have a 1000W (i.e. 1kW) mixer, for example, and if you continuously run it for 1 hour, your energy meter would go up by one unit. Another example: a 100W lamp, continuously on for 10 hours, would cause the energy meter to go up by 1 unit (since 100W x 10h = 1000Wh = 1kWh). Notice that the mixer takes the same amount of energy in just one hour what the bulb takes in 10 hours.
So, if you ask whether a 1kWh solar panel would be sufficient for your home, without you having to depend on government supplied power at all, the answer is no. Let’s see why.
The solar panel can supply 1kWh of energy continuously for 8 hours (from around 8 AM in the morning until 5 PM in the evening – the sun’s rays should fall on the panel for the photovoltaic cells to be able to generate electrons). So for the remaining 16 hours in a day, you have to depend on the power stored in the batteries (which gets charged during the daytime). If you intend to run air-conditioner for 12 hours a day, and even if your A.C. draws as low as 1500 Watts of power (most of the available A.C.s draw more than that), you’d need 1500 W * 8 h = 12 kWh of energy to be supplied by the batteries. Taking into consideration the other electrical equipment at home, you can safely estimate that an battery capable of supplying 20kWh of energy would be required. In order to feed these batteries, 1kWh solar panel wouldn’t be sufficient. You’d need more solar panels too. If you plan to power your home completely using solar panels alone, I estimate the cost to be around 25 lakhs. But this is just my estimate based on the research that I did in the internet. I might be totally wrong, in that, my estimate might be way too high or way too low. But common sense suggests that you’d need at least 10kWh of energy to power the house during the night (if you want air conditioners to be turned on) and going by the calculation, my estimate seems reasonable.
But let that not stop you from going solar. 1kWh of solar panel provides enough energy to at least run two 50W ceiling fans for 10 hours. Needless to say how much helpful it can be during the summer when there’s power cut during the night.