Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Did you know installing a Solar rooftop system can reduce your carbon footprint by 95%?

Solar energy works on the basic principle of photoelectric effect where light is converted to electricity. This conversion takes place without any emissions of toxic gases into the environment. Unlike Fossil Fuels, Solar energy has a negligible amount of carbon footprint.

Taking into consideration the extraction of raw materials, transport, processing, manufacturing, the amount of CO2 emissions released per unit electricity generated is only 48g for Solar Panels compared to 547g and 870g for Natural Gas and Coal respectively.

When your electricity needs are met by Solar power, your carbon footprint is reduced by 92% and 95% as compared to when your electricity needs are met by Natural Gas and Coal respectively.

As Greenhouse gas emissions are less for Solar power, its adoption to combat climate change is a strategy Solarify is implementing at an individual and national level.  Homes, commercial complexes, educational institutions, industries, can reduce their electric-power carbon footprint at a scale and pace that is not only consistent with, but vastly accelerates India's attainment of its Climate Change goals. Go Solar. Go Green.

Calculate your savings from our calculator optimized for your city and building here.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

How Solar power can help you save on your electricity bills

In continuation from our previous post on How to read your Electricity bills in Karnataka for a residential connection, here we look at how installing a solar roof top can reduce your electricity bills and help you gain long term financial savings.

Electricity tariffs in Karnataka are on the rise every year. A look at the increase in the tariffs in the past 5 years:

Tariff (above first 200 units –highest slab)
              (See full Tariff Here)

The electricity tariff has increased by 25% overall from 2013 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3% every year. However, generation of electricity from Solar is fixed at the current market rate of Rs 5.89 which is already lesser than the higher slabs today.

A Typical 3BHK house will consume an average of 300 – 400 units per month, of which anything above the first 200 units falls under the highest slab of Rs 6.90.

Let us take an example of a residential house with a sanctioned load of 3 kW, whose electricity bill is Rs 2038 for a particular month.

As you observe above, a mere consumption of 125 units from the highest slab amounts to 42% of your bill.
Significant savings can be achieved by installing a grid connected solar plant on net metering policy. A Net metering scheme allows users to offset the electricity units drawn from the grid by transferring surplus solar power to the grid. At the end of every month the net electricity units consumed from the grid becomes zero or negligible.

Let us look at the different ways how we can reduce our electricity bills:

Solar plant Size
Units Generated (kWh)
Cost of System (Lakhs)
Bill before Solar (Rs)
Bill after Solar (Rs)
Monthly Solar Earnings (Rs)
Monthly Total Savings (Rs)

2 kW
3 kW
4 kW
5 kW

As observed above, it is ideal to install a 3kW system or more. The total monthly savings is the sum of savings in the electricity bill and earnings from excess generation of electricity from Solar.
Installing a solar rooftop power plant is going to help you achieve significant long term financial savings.

You never have to pay your electricity bill for the next 25 years!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A brief understanding of your Electricity bills

There are times when you start wondering why your electricity bills are increasing every month. It is of crucial importance to know how to save your electricity bills with the constant rise in Grid Tariffs. These tariffs are fixed by the KERC (Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission), and the tariffs are different for every consumer category.

As more people realize the need for a clean reliable source of energy and plan for long term savings, their First step is to understand their electricity bills. To help you to get an insight into your electricity bill, a simple info graphic is presented below.

BESCOM bill for a Residential User:

1.     Revenue Register Number: The RR Number is a Unique ID which identifies the Meter installed by BESCOM.

2.   Tariff Category: BESCOM have categorized different establishments under different categories and have assigned different electricity rates to each. To understand the Tariff rates click here. For residential consumers, the category is LT (Low Tension) 2 a (i) and for commercial comsumers, the category is LT (Low Tension) 3 a (i).

3.   Sanctioned Load: The maximum amount of load  demand from your househould when all the appliances are connected. Applying for the correct santioned load for your house is of crucial importance as it helps to avoid paying penalty for heavy load demand.

4.   Cumulative Readings: In order  to calculate the consumption, BESCOM stores your previous bill readings in their devices and calculated the difference between the current reading and previous reading to check your total consumption for a month and generate the bill.

5.  Consumption: The actual consumption of your household is given in bold and large numbers. The units of electricity is measured in Kilo-Watt Hours which is a measurement of energy. On these units you are charged based on the tariffs and slabs decided by KERC (Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission).  For large segments, the number of units is multiplied by a Constant which varies based on different loads.

The second half of the bill shows the fixed tariff rates for Residential users:

6.   Fixed Charges: This residential segment has a sanctioned load of 3 KW. KERC have fixed a nominal charge per KW of sanctioned load for a residential segment, as seen in the Fixed Charges box.

7.     Slab Rates: Residential users are charged under Slab Rates. Tariff Slab Rates are decided by the KERC and they are charged depending on the units consumed. The consumer has to be aware of such slabs, as exceeding his/her monthly consumption over 200 units, he/she  will be charged at a higher tariff of Rs 6.90, which increases your bill by a considerable amount.

8.  Final Amount: After adding Taxes, penalties,etc. fixed by the State Government, the final amount payable is printed.

It is crucial for any residential or commercial owner to understand this block as this helps you understand that by turning off devices at home when not needed, your bill might not fall into the higher paying slabs and thus reducing your overall bill cost. BESCOM are providing rebates to users who have installed Solar Heaters in their houses, so consumers can reap the benefits up to Rs.50 savings in their monthly electricity bills.

Understanding the different parts of the electricity bill above, can help you understand your electricity bill and also plan on reducing the electricity consumption for your home. By keeping a track of your units being consumed and your sanctioned load, you can save on your monthly electricity bills.

Next week, we talk about how rooftop solar PV plant can reduce your electricity bills and how you can gain long term financial savings…

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Solar power potential in Peenya Industrial Area

By guest author - Girish Shivakumar

Peenya Industrial Area (PIA) is largest small scale industrial sectors within Bengaluru city. PIA is one of the largest Micro Small Medium Enterprise (MSME) cluster in the country. Industries ranging from rolling mills to electrical equipment manufacturing to tool and dye making are present in the area.

Cluster profile
There are around 750 HT 2A (industrial category) consumers under Peenya sub-division of BESCOM (Bangalore Electricity Supply Company). The average contract demand for this sub-division under HT2A category works out to be around 350kVA per consumer. A closer look at the cluster indicates that the consumers with contract demand of <150kVA and between 200-300kVA are equally distributed and account for nearly 50% of the consumer set.

Solar rooftop potential
Under the current solar rooftop policy, consumers could install solar PV up to 150% of their contract demand. So, for a consumer in PIA with 300kVA contract demand, an installation of 450kWp is possible. However, PIA has a wide range of rooftop spaces including asbestos roofing. Most of the roof orientation is nearly south facing but a few roofs are also inclined on the East-West direction. This would technically restrict the installation capacity to 100% of their contract demand or less on an average. 

Consumers with large rooftop spaces

PIA average industrial rooftop space

Economic viability

Considering an electrical load profile of an average industrial client in PIA with a contract demand of less than 150kVA the viability of a 99kWp solar rooftop PV is evaluated. Under the existing policies, the base electrical tariff is at ₹ 6.25/kWh with the tariff for excess PV generation fed back to the grid paid at ₹ 6.14 /kWh and hence the capacity of 99kWp and not 100kWp. In the scenario evaluated which is an average case of industries in PIA there is no general potential for PV export.  

As the results from the analysis reveal, even with a 99kWp solar PV plant, the average industry reduces net electricity consumption from the grid by 68% on an annual basis. The solar energy estimate is a conservative one considering an E-W orientation. Financially, assuming the current tariffs and capital cost for a 99kWp PV plant, the payback is close to 6 years with the obvious advantage of having a PV plant performing up to 25 years and beyond. However, with 80% Accelerated Depreciation (AD) available for businesses the payback is 5 years or lesser.

Overall, there is a definite net benefit to industries in opting for solar rooftop PV considering increasing grid prices and decreasing solar costs.
  •           Reduction in net energy costs which are prone to annual hikes
  •           AD benefit is a good enabler for industries

Even as the solar industry moves towards the 500kWp-1MWp sector for rooftops in the country, an average 100kWp solar plant that suits most of the industries in a cluster like PIA will be significant. Assuming a mere 10% solar adoption with 100kWp system the potential translates to a market of around 25MW in the Peenya Industry alone. Going forward, if India has to make reasonable progress in achieving the 40GW target by 2022, industrial clusters like these are significant and techno-commercial viability under current scenario make them a low hanging fruit. 

Friday, 2 December 2016

Sunroof project - Estimating your solar PV capacity

Guest Author - Girish Shivakumar
Recently Google announced the creation of the company ‘Alphabet’ of which ‘G’ is for Google. This left everyone to wonder what the other letters will stand for. Looks like we have an answer for ‘S’. Google has now launched Project Sunroof that looks to explore its mapping capability with solar irradiation database to estimate solar energy.

Is this late or is it the right time?
Solar Engineers like me will say “We have been using Google maps and Google earth in doing solar PV system design”. Yes, we have been using the Google earth imagery to estimate the roof area, orientation etc to estimate the PV capacity. In most cases we have utilised the Google earth imagery and super imposed it on AutoCad to create the preliminary land boundaries.
Google Sketchup another google product that helps users create 3D images also allowed developers to build add ins to it. One of my favorite add ins is the Skelion. It helps put Solar PV panels on buildings and estimate energy generation. We could use sketchup, skelion and AutoCad to generate Contour maps of the land areas also.
So is this a little late? No!
I believe Google is doing this at the right time. Solar PV prices are falling and it makes economical sense to invest in PV right now. By launching this platform they will in their usual style make it ‘customer-friendly’.  You can use only Google maps to estimate solar PV on your roofs instead of the other products I mentioned before.
What can you expect with this product?
  • Currently this is a pilot project in 3 cities in the US. It could soon spread considering the massive solar radiation database available with NREL.
  • Input your address, locate your roof and estimate the possible PV capacity.
  • Input your energy bill details and estimate the economical savings.
  • It would also allow you to get in touch with a local PV installer to visit and setup the plant for you.
  • For more info Sunroof.
For more topics on solar, you can follow Girish's blog on the link below

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Elon Musk's solution to store sunlight

By guest author - Girish Shivakumar
Elon Musk draws comparisons to Steve Jobs whenever he steps on stage and the event to launch Tesla Energy was no different. After the event even his skeptics would agree that there are glimpses of Jobs in his approach.
ElonMusk-SteveJobsWhen apple launched the iPod it was not the first digital music player in the market but a decade later it has become the default name for digital music player. The same is the story behind iPhone and even the iPad. What Jobs managed to do with these products was not invent something new but rather make the product appeal to people at all levels.
Fast forward to Elon Musk, Tesla motors has revolutionized electric mobility like no other company before it. The Japanese are automotive pioneers and had options in electric vehicles but Tesla stands apart.  For sometime now we have come to know Elon Musk’s interest in solar energy (solarcity chairman, solaredge investor) and his plans to build batteries but little did we know that he would begin the process right at the bottom of the pyramid, the end user at distributed generation systems.
Watch Elon Musk’s talk during the launch of powerwall

He began his keynote presentation by talking about Keeling Curve (the curve that estimates the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere over a period) and the need to switch to renewable energy esp solar energy. He calls the sun a fusion reactor.
What Jobs managed to do with apple devices was to make people feel that they have something special in their hands. I’m a big fan of this concept and I believe renewable energy will reach its true potential only when people feel that they are in part responsible for its generation and also its consumption. And bingo, that is how Elon Musk presented his idea, the idea of US having a great potential to tap solar energy and most of it through rooftop solar systems. He then put the problems  with current batteries and our energy consumption in simple words by describing how big a room we need to store batteries just because we don’t have sunlight at night. What followed next was the launch of Tesla Powerwall
Powerwall is a Lithium ion battery which can seamlessly integrate with the existing grid, solar power and power your loads. Of course this is not the first product which does this but this product is so compact in design that you would want to have it right away even though it costs you upwards of USD 3500.
It is so compact in design that it is smaller than a typical 300Wp solar module! It is smaller than the source that powers it.
TeslaPowerwall Specs
The product is currently being launched in7kWh and 10kWh. The product is completely scalable and you could stack it. But the address also showed the first glimpse of battery pack with a capacity of 100kWh.
The event is just a preview of what Elon Musk plans to do in the future through Tesla Energy. The best part came in the end when the cameras zoomed to the energy meter of the building which showed zero consumption from the grid and all the energy coming from the powerwalls. Should I say trendy powerwalls? because you get to choose the colour of your battery to match the theme of your wall. This is customisation, it brings the consumer closer to the product even though he doesn’t understand the science behind its working. This is where Elon Musk aligns with Jobs style of thought; when the Germans are looking at industrial size Lithium Ion and Sodium Ion battery containers and the Chinese working on Lithium Ion batteries for electronic devices and mobility, Elon Musk went to the end consumer who is in turn a solar power generator and its consumer with a device that will make him feel proud
Read more about the product here

For more topics on solar, you can follow Girish's blog on the link below