Harnessing green energy

Harnessing green energy
In an age of rising costs and pollution hazards, here is someone who is doing his bit for the environment, while earning money from it. Perplexed? Well, read on to find out how he does it. We often see solar panels on various rooftops and terraces of both residential and commercial establishments. These panels produce electricity to the tune of about 75 watts per hour, which is sufficient for six to eight LED lights. But Shrikant Hegde from Sirsi has taken the entire concept one step further. Besides producing the required quantity of electricity for his home, he produces extra solar power for commercial purposes.

A small-time entrepreneur from Uttara Kannada district, Shrikant is a mechanical engineer and an environment enthusiast. He always wondered about utilising the natural source of energy, the Sun, for all our energy requirements. A few months ago, a breakthrough was in sight, when one of his friends working for Apollo Energy, Bengaluru, a private firm dealing with power solutions, convinced him on the concept of producing and selling solar power. He then got a Solar Rooftop Photovoltaic (SRTPV) panel unit installed in his home in 20 days and started the production. 

The solar power generating unit on the terrace of his home has an array of 20 panels, designed in two rows of 10 panels (with photovoltaic cells). Set at an angle of 20 degrees facing south, the unit produces 5 kW power. This arrangement produces about 650 volts and 8 amperes of DC electricity. So, on a bright sunny day, the unit produces about 40 units of electricity in eight hours of exposure. It is then diverted to an inverter, which converts it to AC power after suitable modifications. It is synchronised through a ‘net meter’ and sent to the Hubli Electricity Supply Company Limited (HESCOM) distribution grid. The inverter gives its user two readings — the number of units imported and the number of units exported.

All the electronic equipments are mounted on a vertical wooden board of about 5x4 feet size in a corner of the house and a metre board is installed outside, so that the HESCOM officials can access the readings easily. Along with it, Shrikant has also installed a data monitoring system (an optional mechanism) at an additional cost of Rs 25,000. This mechanism allows him to access the readings through wi-fi from anywhere in the world.

No maintenance hassles

One of the best features of this set-up is that it requires no separate wiring and the electronic gadgets installed are foolproof against power variations and lightning strokes. It has three levels of surge protection systems but produces single-phase electricity. One needs to install a 10kW power producing unit for three-phase electricity. When it comes to maintenance, only the panels need to be cleaned once in six months. The entire unit cost Shrikant around five lakh rupees (25 years warranty). The unit produces about 600-700 units of electricity per month and he needs about 100 units for his home use. He supplies the rest 500-600 units to HESCOM at Rs 9.56 per unit. “At this rate, I can earn Rs 60,000 a year and easily recover the money invested in about six-seven years,” Shrikant says.

Jubilant about harnessing natural energy, he says, “The electricity produced by one such unit can take care of the power requirement of six households. An entire town can become power-sufficient even if 20 per cent of the houses adopt this technology.” 

Sunil Kumar, AEE, HESCOM, Sirsi says, “The procedure is simple and you can find all the information on the website www.hescom.co.in. Both urban and rural households can opt for this green energy generation system and achieve power self-sufficiency. But it does have its limitations too. This set-up works only ‘on-line’, which means one can supply the electricity to the grid only when the power is charged on to the electricity line. Thus, in the event of power failure in the main grid, the current cannot be loaded and the electricity produced cannot be utilised. If you are willing to go in for this set-up, be ready to shell out five lakh rupees as the initial cost of installation.”

As Shrikant Hegde explains his project, the metre tells me that 3.4 units of electricity has already been generated and it is only 10.30 in the morning. He had earned a profit of Rs 32.50 already! Doesn’t the arrangement seem economical and eco-friendly? Well, you can get your hands on one such unit and reap  benefits too. All you have to do is apply to the local electrical authorities, giving them all the details. Get the necessary authentication and approval for your equipments. Then the officials would pay a visit to your home to ensure all the prerequisites are met. For more information on the solar unit, you can contact Shrikant Hegde at shrikanthrhegde@gmail.com.

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