CHENNAI : The recent rains and lack of sunshine in our state doesn’t mean we can forget the sun! With Tamil Nadu being eager about ‘Going Solar’ for our future energy needs, the updated draft to the 2012 Solar Energy Policy was recently published. The TEDA (Tamilnadu Energy Development Agency) aims to make solar energy a mainstream energy source in the state by 2022.
With this mandate it is hoped there will be a significant increase in the number of green jobs in the state. With this, solar energy will become available, accessible and affordable to all. It is projected that the state will have an installed solar energy generation capacity of 8,884 MW by 2022. Of this target 40% will be met by consumer scale solar energy generators — which are essentially self-owned and operated solar PV systems that are a part of individual roof tops of buildings. This makes any available rooftop viable for solar energy harvesting. As an added incentive, corporations, municipalities and local urban bodies will provide property tax abatement to domestic building owners that install consumer scale solar energy systems.
In order to understand consumer- scale solar energy it becomes vital to understand what is popularly called ‘net metering’. All of us are familiar with our regular electricity meters, in the case of solar power — the existing meter needs to be replaced with one that measures both the energy import (from the grid to the consumer) and energy export (from the consumer to the grid). These meters are known as bidirectional energy meters or import-export energy meters.
The rooftop solar panels harness energy from the sun and convert that to an AC (alternating current) by a solar grid inverter. The output of the solar grid inverter is connected such that the electricity flows to the loads of the buildings (lights, fans, appliances etc.). If the solar energy produced is more than what the building loads consume, the surplus energy will automatically be exported to the State distribution network (the grid). If there is less solar energy than what the building requires, the shortfall will be drawn from the grid (energy import). This ensures constant electricity supply to a home even on days when harnessing solar power is a challenge due to cloudy skies etc.
As a further addition to the previous policy of 2012, the new draft includes “group net-metering”. In case of excess energy produced by a building rooftop, the surplus can now be exported to the grid and adjusted in any other service connection (s) of the consumer within the State of Tamil Nadu. This will maximize the utilization of rooftop space for solar by those with multiple buildings and service connections.
On the contrary, for those that do not have rooftop space for a system — a ‘Virtual Net Feed-In’ is possible. Through this system, one can buy in to be part of a collectively owned solar system. All energy produced by the system will be fed into the grid through an energy meter and the exported energy is credited in the electricity bill of each participating consumer of the collective.
The solar power from your roof or your neighbour’s roof is now possible — so go online, learn more and become your own clean green electricity generator today.