India places solar in parliament

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In an effort to promote solar power as a solution to their country’s enormous energy demands, Indian lawmakers have approved the construction of an 80 kilowatt photovoltaic system that will provide emergency power to Parliament, as well as feed half of the power produced into the main grid. This installation will include photovoltaic panels, a biomass plant to provide power from food waste, and solar heaters.

Power created by the system would provide electricity for nearby streetlights, and solar thermal energy captured would be used for heating, but Parliament itself would only switch completely to using this solar power system in the event of a power outage. However, lawmakers believe that other consequences of installing this system are more important than an emergency power fail-safe.

Currently the main solar energy used in India is solar thermal power for heating, in part because there are no state or federal subsidies for photovoltaic energy systems. Parliament members hope that the new power system will encourage local governments to pass laws creating incentives for installing solar panels, since they have a wider range of uses than solar thermal power. Solar thermal heating is required to be installed in all government buildings, but Parliament is hoping that other federal government buildings, as well as state governments, will begin to utilize photovoltaic panels, too.

By 2022, India hopes to have a solar energy program capable of producing 20,000 megawatts of power, which will be regulated by a feed-in tariff. This tariff would guarantee purchase of electricity generated from renewable sources, and would provide this electricity at a cost to the consumer that is less than energy produced from non-renewable sources. The system to be installed in the Indian Parliament would demonstrate how the feed-in tariff works, and hopefully encourage consumers to take advantage of current renewable energy options, such as power company-subsidized solar panels that can be installed on homeowners’ rooftops. These subsidies are already available to customers, but for the most part have not been taken advantage of, due to a combination of lackluster promotion and customers not seeing monetary savings from their use.