Monday, September 28, 2009

UTVi News: Bangalore wants to soak up the sun

UTVi News: Bangalore wants to soak up the sun
BANGALORE: In our ongoing 100 day series, we are looking at the government effort to improve urban infrastructure. And here's an example from India’s IT capital, Bangalore. The city is powering its way out of its energy problems with the BJP-led state government getting serious on tapping solar energy. After making it compulsory for new buildings to use solar water heaters, the government now plans to install solar panels in major state buildings and public utilities.

After spending days and nights in the dark, power-starved Bangalore is now looking up to the sun to make-up for the energy shortfall in the city. It is now the top city in the country with usage of 60% of household and industrial units using solar water heaters. Experts say Bangalore is clearly leading the way in solar power adoption but the government needs to incentivise it further.

According to environmentalist S Vishwanath, Bangalore has the single largest application of solar water heaters. Though on the solar cooker and photovoltaic it's a bit behind... But it can ratchet it up. What the govt needs to do is to incentivise the R&D aspect of photovoltaic, solar water heaters and cookers plus to build capacity to train people and upgrade their skills and give economic incentives.

Currently facing a shortage of 300-500 MW, Bangalore bears the brunt of power cuts every summer.

Under the recently announced solar city project, the state government is now planning to install photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 2-5 KW on rooftops of over 10,000 houses. Power generated by these units will be used for energy requirements of the locality and the rest will be pumped to the State grid.

The state is also proposing solar power to operate street lights, drinking water supply and in government buildings.

The state electricity board has also restricted the supply for billboards from unlimited to 2-3 KW since April this year. There is also a proposal to power streetlights and park lights with solar panels.

Shivanandamurthy from the Karnataka Renewable Energy Department says Bangalore's power problems might soon be a thing of the past if solar energy sees widespread adoption.

H G Shivanandamurthy, MD, KREDL, said: "We are saving 10-12% due to solar water heaters, solar lights, etc.. We are projecting it to go up to 20 percent.

Bangalore is one of the four cities in Karnataka which is working towards sourcing 10 percent of its energy needs from solar power. Even a 7 to 10 percent dependency on solar power would mean huge power savings for Bangaloreans and ensure they don’t go powerless.

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