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Solar power prospects

Published : Aug 10, 2012 00:00 IST

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K.E. Raghunathan, managing director, Solkar Solar Industry Limited.-S.R.RAGHUNATHAN

K.E. Raghunathan, managing director, Solkar Solar Industry Limited.-S.R.RAGHUNATHAN

K.E. Raghunathan, managing director of the Chennai-based Solkar Solar Industry Limited, is passionate about solar energy. In 2000, there was a wind energy revolution. In 2012, there will be a revolution in solar energy, he says. He may not be far from the truth. The Government of India has set a target of 20,000 MW for solar energy by 2020.

Raghunathans 28-year-old factory in Ambattur has pioneered several solar energy products, the latest being Solgen, a solar inverter. The power shortage across India has led to high demand, he said, for Solgen. He added that his factory came up with the product in three months time. We have more than 20,000 users of Solgen now, he said.

He estimated the demand for inverters in Tamil Nadu alone to be around seven lakh units. A conventional inverter stores electricity when it is available and provides it to the user when there is load-shedding. When consumers draw out electricity when it is available, the power cut becomes more acute. Is this the right way to use electricity? he asked. In Solgen, solar energy charged the battery and made it available for use during power cuts.

Solgen comes in two models 600 VA and 1,000 VA. The smaller one can connect up to five power points, including fans and tubelights, for up to two hours, whereas the bigger one can connect up to seven power points for up to three hours. T. Uma, sales coordinator, Solkar Solar Industry, said: The life of the solar panel [used in Solgen] is 25 years. We provide a tubular battery. Raghunathan suggested that finance be made available to buy solar energy products. When you manufacture a product on a mass scale, you can bring down the cost and make sure that every home uses a solar energy product, he said. Solkar Solar has products that cost between Rs.1,000 and Rs.15 lakh, including torchlights and a solar power plant.

T.S. Subramanian

(This story was published in the print edition of Frontline magazine dated Aug 10, 2012.)

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