Before Govindan Satheeshan installed solar panels on the roof of his home in southern India’s Kerala state under a government scheme two years ago, the 70-year-old retiree was unsure.
Would the panels produce enough electricity? Would they be too expensive? Would the system suffer technical glitches?
But his hefty electricity bills, of up to 15,000 rupees ($205) every two months, motivated him to sign up – and today his bills have dropped close to zero.
Satheeshan is so happy with the results he invited anyone uncertain about installing a home solar system to visit him in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital.
“People are still doubtful about the feasibility of rooftop solar panels. If anyone is interested but sceptical, they are welcome to visit my home and I will clarify (the benefits),” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Kerala now hopes to convince more residents to make the switch, launching a new solar rooftop programme in January aimed at curbing carbon emissions and cutting the state’s reliance on imported power.
The Soura (Sun) project aims to install solar panels on 75,000 homes, which will contribute 350 megawatts (MW) of power to the state’s grid.
Combined with the 20,000 houses that already put in solar panels under an earlier initiative, the new Soura project will help Kerala cover about 10% of its electricity needs through solar, according to KSEB, the state’s electricity board.
Despite Kerala’s solar innovations – from the world’s first solar airport to India’s largest floating solar power plant – the state has lagged behind much of the country in wider uptake of the renewable energy source.