When Kolkata-based banker, Nilesh Gupta went to visit his cousin in Bengaluru, it was interesting (as well as inspiring) to see them living a ‘green’ lifestyle. Their home was powered by solar panels, which produced enough energy to meet his small family’s needs. What he really wondered was, can this be feasible in the real estate landscape of Kolkata? Fortunately for Mr. Gupta, Kolkata is stepping up its game in ‘green living’ and the rooftop solar panels are one its way to becoming the new eco-friendly housing trend in the city.
While only a handful of developers in the city have currently installed solar panels in residential complexes, there are many others who plan to integrate the new technology into their upcoming projects. From a developer’s standpoint, there’s definitely a growing awareness and a deeper penetration level of knowledge as far as the benefits of green energies are concerned. Market observers believe, green solar systems will power the future and be a game changer for the real estate sector in coming years.
There’s also a tremendous amount of government initiative fuelling the green drive, inspiring individual households and developers to play their part in contributing to a greener world by reducing the carbon footprint.
So How Does a Homeowner Benefit from Rooftop Solar Panels on Buildings in Kolkata?
Firstly, solar electricity provides the much-needed backup to deal with the occasional power outage in Kolkata and the adjoining areas. A residential complex with a solar rooftop panel is self-sufficient, generating and managing its own electricity while leveraging energy savings and financial gains from net-metering.
What Is Net Metering and How Does it Work Out for the Homeowner?
Net metering is a billing mechanism which credits the electricity that a solar power system owner transfers to the grid. For instance, it is quite possible for a residential consumer with a PV system on the home’s rooftop to generate excess power than the home utilizes during the daylight hours. If the residence is net-metered, the energy meter will move backward to allow a credit against the electricity consumed at night, or at other times, when the home’s electricity consumption is lower than the system’s output. Consumers are charged only for their net energy usage.
Net metering allows consumers who generate some or all of their own electricity to use that electricity anytime, instead of when it is generated. This is particularly important with solar, which is non-dispatchable. Monthly net metering allows consumers to use solar power generated during the day at night. Annual net metering rolls over a net kilowatt credit to the following month, allowing the solar power that was generated in July to be used in December.
The power produced from the PV system is essentially used to meet the homeowner’s internal electricity demands, and the excess generation fed into the grid to fulfill the local consumer loads.
Rabi Rashmi – Kolkata’s First Solar Powered Project
‘Rabi Rashmi’ is the state’s first ever solar residential complex developed in the year 2008. Each home unit, utilizing its rooftop panel, generates 2 kilowatts of energy-efficient solar power, which is used for domestic purposes as well as fed into the grid. The community centre has an electricity generation capacity of 8 KW, utilized to power the water heating systems for all the twenty-five bungalows in the complex. Signages and area lighting are also lit by clean solar power. The power utility provider is paid on a net metering basis.
The project, back in 2008, was the brainchild of West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA), engineered and managed by Development Consultants Limited.
The Kolkata High Court Ruling on Rooftop Solar Panels
The Calcutta High Court in a judgment on June 11, 2013, directed civic authorities to make sure that all the new high-rises that are coming up in Kolkata must have rooftop solar panels installed. The landmark judgment was pronounced in response to a petition filed by environment activist Subhas Dutta in 2009.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi also notified the power utilities in West Bengal to support their renewable energy commitments by purchasing or generating at least 10 per cent of the supplies through renewable sources. This process, the court says, will be monitored by the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The prevailing building regulations of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) specify, any high-rise that is over 15.5 meters in height will have to install rooftop solar panels. For other municipality areas in West Bengal, the cut-off mark is 14.5 meter, approximately four stories.
West Bengal Government Buildings to Have Rooftop Solar Panels
In an attempt to slash crippling power bills and promote green energy, the state government is planning to light up government offices by installing solar panels on the roof of buildings. As per media reports, the state power minister stated that the project is going to cover all state government offices, municipalities, corporations, panchayats, state-run public sector undertakings and all other autonomous bodies of the state government.
The project is christened as Aloshree, and is being implemented by West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL).
The project has the support of the state Chief Minister.
As clean and renewable energy initiatives are doing the rounds creating more awareness among investors and buyers, real estate developers in the city are looking at substantial business opportunities from eco-friendly solar solutions. With that, the dream of a cleaner and greener Kolkata looks brighter than ever!