A solar bus — lit up with LED bulbs and complete with a refrigerator and an air conditioner — started a 20-day journey in the city today to demonstrate how solar power can run an entire household. Called the Solar Comet, the “house on wheels” with solar panels fitted on the roof was flagged off by environment group Greenpeace India to mark World Environment Day. In the next 20 days, the bus will tour across the city, as activists interact with members of resident welfare associations (RWAs) on the the benefits of rooftop solar panels. The Comet, fitted with power saving LEDS bulbs, also has mobile charging points, a mixer grinder and an air cooler, all working on solar energy. The exercise is aimed at creating awareness about the benefits of installing rooftop solar panels in the national capital, Greenpeace India said.
“The Delhi government came up with a solar policy last year. But despite the benefits that it offers, Delhiites haven’t really woken up to the idea. Till now the uptake has been very low in residential sectors,” Pujarini Sen, climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace India, said. Delhi’s total solar potential is of 2,500 MW, with a residential potential of 1,250 MW. Its official target is to reach solar installations of a capacity of 1,000 MW by 2020 and 2,000 MW by 2025. But as of December 2016, only 35.9 MW of solar panels had been installed out of which, till March 2016, only 3 MW were on residential installations. “We hope the solar bus is able to play its part in encouraging more and more residents to go solar,” Sen said.
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She said talks with RWAs revealed several misconceptions about rooftop solar energy. People, for instance, believe that rooftop solar entails a high capital investment, though the state and central governments have been offering financial incentives to promote the clean energy. In Delhi, apart from a 30 per cent rebate offered by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, loans are available for those willing to generate solar energy.
Roof rights are a common problem faced by people living in apartments, where the terrace is usually owned by those occupying the top floor. “In such cases, the RWAs can take a collective decision to install a solar power system in the common areas of the colony,” Sen said, saying that some apartments were following this system. “All we need is an open mind,” she said. Rooftop solar is an environment friendly alternative to coal-powered electricity and can make the city’s air more breathable, Sen added.