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Penetration of Solar Home System Appliances in India

SHS Sample Image

“The nation that leads in renewable energy will be the nation that leads the world.” – James Cameroon

Background

IMF and World Bank have forecasted that the GDP of our country will grow at the rate of 7-8% for the next few years. However, this growth is not possible without addressing the energy demand from remote rural areas.  It would indeed be difficult to solve the energy problem of India solely with the on-grid power. On Grid Power suffers from distributional losses, operational efficiencies, bureaucracy, and various other issues. The substitute “off-grid power” can act as a rescue for energy poverty. International Energy Agency (IEA), in its energy access outlook, strongly advocated the importance of off-grid power in eradicating energy poverty from India. Let’s read below about the Solar Home System Appliances and how we can integrate them.

Details of Solar Home System Appliances 

Solar home system comprises of solar panels along with essential devices such as mobile charger, lighting, Fans and TV. The fact that the power output from the solar panel is not enough mandates the development of super-efficient appliances to suit the requirement of the solar panel, for example, fans which comes along  Solar home system consumes 6-30 watts as compared to 70-100 watts conventional fan without compromising on the air delivery.  A quality SHS can be bought of Rs 7,000-12,000 which may contain the following accessories

  • 3-5 LED bulb of 300-500 lumen
  • Battery 5000-6000 mAh
  • Mobile charger
  • 6-10 W Solar panel
  • Up to 24 hrs of runtime on a day’s charge

These SHS comes usually varies from 10 Watt-100 Watt (peak) often sufficient for normal household usage. Additionally, many players such as Sunking, Mitva, SELCO have come up with higher wattage potential, which can support super-efficient refrigerators.

bancha solar energy
Pic Courtesy: TOI Bancha Solar Energy News Article

Roadblocks in the path of Solar Home System Appliances 

Lemon Market

  • SHS market is flooded with a low-quality product which has eroded the trust of the consumer. Also, the target segment comprising of rural segment is not aware of the technical specifications of the product which makes them vulnerable.

After Sales support

  • Most of these products are sold in rural markets. It is very difficult for a new company to provide after-sales support to the consumer at the doorstep or to establish a service center nearby rural region as the frequency of service would be very low, but the no. of service centres will keep on increasing.

Perception utility Gap

  • There seems to be a gap between the perceived utility of the energy efficient products as compared to the conventional products in the minds of the consumer. Energy efficiency comes at a price premium, but price loyal people of our country are not willing to pay a premium yet. Energy efficiency has neither received much attention by the consumer nor by the policymakers.

Way Forward

  • Standardization of energy efficient products

There is a strong need to formulate a stringent efficiency standard norms for the efficient appliance. Rating system for AC appliance has blossomed, but the same is missing from DC super-efficient appliances.

  • Empowerment of SHG

SHG can act as a medium of communication for the sales support of the appliances. Additionally, it may generate employment for many. SHG are group of women advocating a certain product which is not very much accessible in rural areas and with frequent outages and zero grid connectivity, solar appliances become handy for them.

  • Awareness

The government should take the initiative to increase awareness about the importance of energy savings and off-grid solar appliances . Additionally, the super-efficient appliance should be kept in the lower bracket of GST as compared to the conventional appliances.

  • Battery Technology

A lot of research is already going on around the world for inventing inexpensive storage solutions for solar power, however until it gets a push from the government side in the R&D, it is going to be very difficult.

Conclusion

SHS industry is still at the nascent stage. The government should hand hold this industry until the industry matures. SHS has huge potential to save energy and potential to address several of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)  such as SDG7 (Energy), SDG 11 (sustainable cities) and has a ripple effect on many other SDGs. SHS can be of great help in eliminating energy poverty, along with creation of a sustainable society. A national policy framework for energy efficient products is required from Government which would address the significance of energy savings as every unit of energy saved is energy earned!

Dhanesh Chandra

Dhanesh Chandra

Dhanesh Chandra is a consultant for Alliance for an energy efficient economy. He is currently conducting research on the potential of Solar Home system and super-efficient appliance, along with developing a framework for efficient utilization of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Prior to joining, he worked for Infosys & BEL. He holds MBA from IIM Lucknow and B.E. from BIT MESRA. His areas of experience include quantitative modeling, Business Analytics, Life cycle Analysis, E Mobility.

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