Common myths about solar energy in India

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Encouraging inaccurate myths around climate change, renewables, clean technology can hold us back from becoming more sustainable.

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Mythology is widely prevalent in Indian societies. As a result, over time, several stories and belief systems have found a place in our lives. These act as foundational blocks of entire nations, especially India. Yet along with these great mythologies, some myths about solar energy have also been passed along. It’s about time that we address them.

Myth #1 • All solar systems keep working even when the power goes out

A building powered with a grid-connected solar power system will lose power in case of an outage. Buildings that are entirely independent of the grid (off-the-grid) and/or run on a hybrid system will continue to use solar power during daytime power outages.

Backup batteries can be integrated with a grid-tied system for 100% uptime. By installing backup batteries, you will have a power supply even during an outage. In the case of off-grid, off-the-grid, and hybrid systems, batteries store solar power produced by the solar panels.

Myth #2 • Warmer climates are better for solar power generation

Solar panels harness the sun’s light and not its heat. High temperatures lower the efficiency of solar panels. Also, solar panels do not completely shut off during the cloudy or rainy season. They continue to operate at 50% efficiency. Additionally, the excess energy produced during the summer months is available in the form of energy credits/money to be used during times when not much solar energy is produced.

Therefore, cities with moderate annual temperatures such as Bangalore are better suited for solar than warmer cities like Chennai.

Myth #3 • Solar panels are prone to damage from wind, birds, animals, and more

India’s dense bird population raises concerns about the effect of bird droppings on solar panels. The only way bird droppings affect solar panels is by reducing their efficiency. To avoid this, try setting up a scarecrow to keep the birds away and install the panels with sufficient maintenance space. This will allow you to clean the panels easily.

Cleaning your panels once every 15 to 30 days is recommended to get the most out of your investment.

Solar panels have toughened glass to prevent easy breakage. This is to say that a monkey standing or even jumping on it wouldn’t cause any physical damage.

While solar panels may not be bulletproof, they can withstand heavy winds and storms. The quality of workmanship – mounting structure, pipes, wiring – determines the all-weather durability of your solar power system.

Myth #4 • Most Indians cannot afford to own a solar power system

Many of us are under the assumption that switching to solar is a luxury, and an option only for wealthy folks. This isn’t true. Falling costs of solar and the accessibility of financing options like loans and government subsidies have made solar a feasible option for all property owners. Property owners are eligible to avail incentives based on solar energy generation

If your solar installation covers 100 per cent of your electricity needs and your monthly solar lease fee/loan instalment is lower than your typical electricity bill, you’ll see savings right from the start.

Solar makes sense

What are the ROI (return on investment) and payback period, you ask? Most consumers get a payback on their solar investment within a span of 5- 7 years. Once the investment is recovered, the power generated by your system for the next 18 – 20 years is free of cost.

Myth #5 • Your solar panels are likely to get stolen

Fear of property theft is understandable because even the smallest of items tend to get stolen in India – right from chappals left outside temples to letterboxes, nothing is spared.

Stealing solar panels, in comparison, is quite cumbersome. Each solar panel weighs almost 30 kilos and is installed on an elevated structure. Robbing solar panels undetected would be possible only in case of poorly done installations (or if the Ocean’s Eleven decides to go on a solar panel heist).

Indian mythology acts as a medium for people to share stories and share a sense of belonging. But encouraging inaccurate myths around climate change, renewables, clean technology can hold us back from becoming more sustainable.

This article is not an attempt to ignore facts around solar power. We do acknowledge the weaknesses of the technology. The efficiency of the panel, the quality of products available, trustworthy companies to work with amongst other areas do need improvement. Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that India has suitable geographical conditions to harness solar energy.

So, the next time you hear or read something about solar energy (yes, including this article), take a couple of minutes to question it – and it may pave the way for a better future.

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