If you are a resident of India you probably know that it’s not going to be long before you experience the next power cut, whether you are living in a village, a town, or even a city. I have received many phone calls, mainly from city dwellers, asking whether solar power is a solution to this problem. The answer is, well, not that simple. Let me explain.

To generate electricity, solar panels require a reference voltage. This reference voltage can be obtained from 2 sources.

  1. Grid electricity
  2. Battery

The most feasible option, from a monetary perspective, is the use of grid electricity as reference. This means that when grid electricity is available the solar panels will generate solar power. However, during power cuts, due to the absence of a reference voltage, the generation of solar power will cease as well.

 

So if you are looking to use solar power during power cuts, you will require batteries, which might turn out to be an expensive affair. However, if your electricity requirements are not very high, then we can work out the feasibility in the use of batteries.

For those of you who are using diesel generators as a backup power source during power cuts, here’s some perspective of the cost-per-unit difference when compared to solar power.

One litre of diesel costs Rs. 67, which provides 3 units of electricity. Therefore, 1 unit of electricity through diesel costs Rs. 22.33. Rooftop solar power, on the other hand, is much cheaper at approximately Rs. 4-5/unit. Although the initial investment for solar power is considerably high, within two to three years it will actually pay for itself. Moreover, let’s not forget the continuous increase in fuel costs over the years. If the price were to increase by 10% a year (which has been the trend), diesel would cost about Rs. 83/litre in 2020 and the cost of power from diesel would be close to Rs. 25/unit!

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So, everything considered, a generator can be seen as a temporary solution to overcome the inconveniences and effects of load shedding. A more permanent solution and investment will be to install a solar power system.