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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Try solar power


India is falling into the trap of nuclear energy which is expensive and hazardous
Tags : Power crisis in India | Hydel power | VR KRISHNA IYER | Nuclear power | Solar power |

An unusual failure of rainfall all over the country has landed India in a crisis of power shortage since we are largely dependent upon hydel generation of power. More power must be found if India’s development is to be sustained.

The prime minister apparently found a solution to the power crisis by borrowing nuclear energy sources by inking a treaty with nuclear companies. Since then, USA’s big business has put great pressure Manmohan Singh’s UPA government to enter into a nuclear treaty with the USA.

Radiation leak is inevitable in nuclear power generation and radiation constitutes a  grave danger, whether the source be USA or Russia or former republics of the USSR. The Koodankulam nuclear power plant built with Russian help is near completion.

The common people, apprehensive of the dangers of nuclear radiation, have fought this  grave peril to their lives.  But the state is indifferent to the protests of common people and is proceeding with the project overlooking clear and well laid down scientific facts.  Long years ago I had raised my voice in vain against nuclear generation. ‘Nuclear never, solar ever’ was the slogan I coined but it was ignored by successive governments.
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Even with two rainy seasons, India receives good and bright sunshine all over. The average solar insolation in the country is worked out as equivalent to 2.9x107 MW of power generation capacity per year.

In addition,  solar power is inexpensive in generation.  A recent Indian Express article has explained how solar power is cheap even in small quantities domestically and saves big  transmission losses.

Likewise, wind power is easily available all over the country as has been demonstrated in the Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu.  How safe and locally available is this process?  In other words, it is time a massive project for wind generation of power should be undertaken all over the country.

Interestingly, there is also big business interest in these proposals.

Since power shortage has the crippling effect on development and the sun’s energy is available abundantly in most parts of our country, what we require is a colossal research on solar power. If we succeed here, it will be a national victory and can be considered the poor man’s success on the energy front. Little research has so far been done in India on this subject. But considerable potential exists if our governments dare to worship the sun.

Let me cite some long passages from what Dr Ravindranathan Thampi, solar energy expert and professor, solar energy, University College Dublin, Ireland, said: “It is simple and does not require huge investment, signing of MoUs or other complex procedures. People who are interested in investing can easily generate solar energy if they have a small roof or wall with the right inclination and with exposure
to sunlight for long hours.  The power generated can be
fed to the grid, while the production
and consumption can be monitored by an electronic meter.”

It is cheap and easy to install, but there needs to be a guarantee from the Kerala State Electricity Board that they will pay the bills on time.  Energy can be generated in small quantities.  “There are so many homes, especially NRI homes, that are locked and uninhabited for most part of the year which is ideal for feed-in-tariff. We need working models that are simple and effective.  It would cost Rs 7 per unit as against the Rs 12 per unit of the Kayamkulam plant.  Moreover, it would be free from transmission loss,” said Ravindranathan.

This will also create employment as entrepreneurs can take up the project and hands are required to fit the gadgets and other procedures.

The Kerala government has invited participants offering facilities by way of subsidy provided they are willing to instal solar power.  I am one who has offered to pare down the initial cost. There are Central and state subsidies which bring down the offer of cost.

It is inspiring to note that Gujarat under the imaginative leadership of Chief Minister Narendra Modi has actually generated solar power in large quantities. If Gujarat can produce solar power on a large scale, many other Indian states can do the same. The nuclear lobby is far more expensive and dangerous. The solar feasibility should be tried on a large scale in the south of India where the sun shines bright.

(The views expressed by the author are personal)

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017