CHENNAI : With all of us complaining about the summer sun and the long hot days, it seems as if we are looking for ways to hideaway, stay cool and hydrated right now. For thousands of years, ancient civilisations have revered the sun. Indians hold Surya as the energy source of all life itself and offer daily prayer or Surya Namaskar as a regular morning ritual of worship and health.
The architect’s version of the Surya Namaskar is a Solar Study — analysing daily movement to design the building and plan for rooftop solar placements. The sun is at its peak in summer and travels a path through the sky at its highest angle on June 21 (Summer Solstice). The summer solstice is the longest day of the year as the sun travels the farthest path as it makes its way from sunrise to sunset.As we gear up towards the longest summer days yet to come, let’s take a minute to see what we can gain from the sun in all its glory rather than what there is to be afraid of.
The Tamil Nadu Solar Energy Policy 2019 was released in February this year by TEDA (TN Energy Development Agency) and aims to encourage and incentivise electricity consumers to set up solar energy systems. The proposed single-window system for technical support, funding support, and project clearance aims to streamline the process between various government departments — making it easy for the consumer to implement solar photovoltaics and avail net metering.
My personal experience is from my office building where we generate about 268kW of electricity every month through Photo Voltaic (PV) panels on our roof. The power generated is used towards running the air handling units that help cool the building. So in a way, the harder the sun shines, the more energy we gain to stay cool. The recorded numbers in the months of (April/May/June) is between 338-348kW. Given that this is almost 25 per cent to 30 per cent increase over the average proves yet again that an investment in even a small scale renewable energy unit at a home or private office level is totally worth it — government mandate or not.
If you are considering a retrofit of solar on your rooftop, here are a few main things to keep in mind. The roof slope and orientation have to be studied, solar energy is better harvested at angles that depend on the latitude of the location along with the availability of sunlight and solar geometry. Flat roofs offer the greatest flexibility, allowing panels to be installed at an optimum inclination and orientation to the sun.
The biggest advantage of using PV’s is that the electricity generated by them can be directly used during the day, making it perfect for offices and energy-guzzling appliances and motors in a home. Further, having a rooftop solar generator will keep you cool even during the power cuts, if any, this summer.
So go ahead, revere the sun, draw from its energy instead of letting it sap you out. Use this summer as the excuse to implement a renewable solar energy unit on your roof — the city, state, and planet will all thank you.