The Power crisis : A green opportunity

In India 260 million people are living below poverty and more than 390 million people are illiterate, the largest pool of illiterate people of the world. Because of illiteracy most of these 390 million people are living in extreme poor condition. Some can manage a square mill a day but very few can light up their homes during night. Electricity is a luxury to these poor people. Their kids too are devoid of the light of literacy. But the sheer fact is that if a society cannot give support to it’s many poor it can not protect it’s riches either. This extreme dark situation can be altered if we take up this challenge face to face and look up the sun for solution. India being in the ‘tropic of Cancer’ we get good amount of sunlight everyday. The average sun time (sun with full intensity) in the entire country varies from 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours. Only during monsoon period 60 to 100 days remain partially or completely clouded. However, during this 300 to 250 days their homes can be lit up with light with little investment towards solar power. Of course the state or the benevolent organizations have to come forward to take up the challenge. With the improvement of the inverter technology and the reduction of the solar photo voltaic prices the project here is going to be described is tested ,feasible ,practiced and lucrative. In a typical house of a middle class family there happens to be 3 to 4 tube lights, 3 to 4 CFLs , 3 to 4 ceiling fans and 1 or 2 table or pedestal fans. Among these the tube lights and the CFLs are run a minimum 5 to 6 hours during night. The project shown below is being used to light up 3 nos T5 tube lights and 1 no 5 watt CFLs for 5 to 6 hours a day without any interruption. Well here is the heart of the project: Solar Panels.

110 watt: From left to right 10 watt , 50 watt and 50 watt (Poly crystalline type. Life:25 years) Maximum output is at 17 volt Cost RS:120/watt Cost=RS: 13200

The panels are fitted on the parapet wall of my flat. For fittings simple folded galvanized channels (available in any hardware store) is used. They are painted by red oxide and then black paint thus giving them a complete protection from the corrosive weather of Mumbai. This type of double coatings will be just enough for any other locations in India. It’s better if some scare-crow sort of things can be fitted on top of it so as to avoid droppings of birds. A thorough top surface washing once a week is recommended in the urban area to wash off the dust , dirt and birds droppings if any. However, in the rustic area this can be done once in a month. We have to keep in mind that any blockage, cover of the sunlight will severely impede the output of the panels. Since India is in the tropic of cancer part of the globe, the fixed type simple solar panels will invariably be inclined towards north. But the exact angle will be known from the latitude of that area. It is always essential to use same type of panels whose output voltages are same. All the output of the panels are to be wired together to a common terminal where from it will be brought down inside the room . The wiring to be used is of 14 or 15 SWG copper wire (red and black ). Normally single stranded 14 SWG copper wire costs RS:20 / meter. A 50 AMP fuse socket is to be fitted at the end on the positive terminal. Two no diodes are to be used in series in the down comer. It acts as a voltage stabilizer for the solar panels. The cost detail: The 110 watt solar panel @ RS:120/watt = 110 *120 = 13200.00 One no 200 AH tubular battery =7000.00 14 SWG copper wire red & black:10 mtr each:400.00 25 AMP fuse with base: 100.00 Transformer less 250 watt inverter : 1800.00 Installation and fitting:400.00 2 heavy duty Diodes (PBYR75) = RS:100.00 each Cost of Solar panel & Inverter = 23000.00 ------------------------------------------The cost of 3no T5 rod = 400.00 * 3 = 1200.00 5 watt CFL 1 nos = 75.00 Grand Total = 24275.00 250 watt transformer less Inverter: The transformer less inverters are available in any super market now-a-days. They are used for running your laptop from the Car Battery. These are very small and uses no balky transformer. It simply converts 12 volt DC to 250 Voltage DC by DC-DC converter after that they make the 250 voltage DC to 230 volt AC. The loss is very less and can be directly connected to the load at one end and the solar panel at the other end. The battery cut off voltage is set at 10.5 volt however, it starts giving alarm at 11 volt.

Lighting: The T5 tube light takes 30 watt with choke and it’s illumination is 1.5 times the normal T12 tube light. CFL is not recommended for reading because of it’s intense glow. However CFLs can be used in the passages and the toilets. Field Usage: The above setup works fine for 3 nos T5 tubes and 1 nos 5 watt CFLs for 6 to 7 hours daily. On a normal sunny day here in Powai it works for 7 hours and on an otherwise dull day it works for 5 hours. On a cloudy day it works for 2 to 3 hours. Continuous Operation: The system is in operation for more than 16 months as of today. The polycrystalline solar panels are absolutely intact and healthy. Only it needs to be cleaned once in a week by water. Conclusion: The total cost of the solar panel and the inverter comes about RS :23000.00 and the T5 tubes and the CFLs comes about RS:1275.00. The total cost of the entire setup is RS:24275.00. There may be little expenditure towards the wiring etc. The installation is simple and effective. If the state or the voluntary organizations make an effort for it’s mass production the cost will be further reduced. Imagine all the 260 million homes are no more dark during night . The small hamlets light up in the dark. The children in these homes spend the evening in front of books and become busy in doing home works. Let it goes for 10 years and I believe this 260 million Indians will create another class of people who will be more healthy and close to nature yet wise and sophisticated. Their children will belong to another powerful burgeoning class of India. Jai hind S. Bera Powai / Mumbai

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