Wed, 26 Jun, 2019

Orb Energy prepared to give a ‘solar’ boost to Goa

Even though Goa gets ample sunlight throughout the year, very few people have tapped solar power in the State. Being a new technology, a lot of potential users are apprehensive about solar power. Orb assures that its rooftop solar system will pay back in 3-4 years, besides it also offers in-house finance as collateral free loans for those willing to go for its rooftop solar system

01st April 2019, 03:21 Hrs

It has been a while that the term “solar power” has been making some sort of a buzz in Goa. In December 2017, the State Government even notified “Solar Energy Policy” in order to incentivize people to use solar power, which is renewable in nature.   

Despite efforts in the right direction, solar power has not been able to penetrate the Goan market at all. There are only a handful of examples in the State, wherein a government department or an industrial consumer has gone for solar power.   

Experts say that the lack of orientation towards solar energy is partly due to the fact that it is a new concept and partly because it needs huge initial investment.   

Recently, a Bangalore based company called ‘Orb Energy’ finished installing rooftop solar system for Gomantak Ayurved Mahavidyalaya in Shiroda. Orb’s 30 kilowatt rooftop solar system is expected to save Rs 1.5 lakhs per annum for the institute and it will generate over 50 thousand units of clean electricity per annum.  

Damian Miller, Orb’s chief executive officer, emphasized that his company’s rooftop solar system will pay back the investment in 3-4 years even without the subsidy assured by the government in solar energy policy. In other words, a consumer buying rooftop solar system will take only 3-4 years in recovering through savings on power bills his initial investment.  

Miller explained, “Let me take an example of a 100kWp rooftop solar system. Today, the installed cost of the system would be around Rs 45 lakhs. Typically, a 100kWp rooftop solar system generates an estimated 15,000 units of electricity per month. In Goa, the cost of electricity generated through conventional means for commercial and industrial establishments is in the range of Rs 6-8 per unit.”  

He continued, “With our rooftop solar system, the cost of electricity can be brought down to under Rs 3 per unit (when amortised over a 25 year period). Factoring the savings and other benefits they get (like accelerated depreciation or tax benefits), a 100kWp rooftop solar system will achieve payback in just 3-4 years.”   

In case, a consumer is unable to use all the power generated through solar system, he can always export the unused power to the grid and also get paid for it by the government. Under the policy, the government pays Rs 6.5 per unit for power given to the grid by a consumer, which is significantly higher than the rate it charges consumers to pay if they buy power from the government.  

Often a lot of prospective customers get discouraged with the idea of solar power after thinking of huge initial investment in installing rooftop solar system. How should they decide whether they should be going for rooftop solar system or not?  

Miller replied, “We have designed a simple solar calculator to help users determine the size of the system, investment required, payback etc. by providing some basic details like their monthly electricity bill, number of units consumed per month and the rooftop area available. You can try the solar calculator here: https://www.orbenergy.com/calculator.”  

For residential users, Orb starts providing rooftop solar systems at 3kWp and for commercial and industrial users, it starts at 10kWp. Having said that, investment in solar energy amounts to paying upfront for your electricity usage of many years.  

This is because you would pay today for installing a solar system but payoffs in terms of savings on power bills will happen over a long period of time, like more than 25 years. Therefore, a lot of customers need financing to buy a solar system.  

To help commercial and industrial small medium enterprises (SMEs) overcome this hurdle, Orb offers in-house finance. Under this option, a customer has to make 25% down payment for a solar system. The remaining 75% is paid over 3-4 years. By doing this, Orb tries to align the term of loan payment with the payback period of rooftop solar system.   

Miller further said, “Our focus is particularly on commercial and industrial SMEs as they are a largely under-served part of the market. In the industrial segment, we work with manufacturing, food processing customers, who are heavily impacted by rising costs of electricity and in the commercial segment, we focus on hospitals, schools and colleges, hotels and etc.”  

It is true that rising cost of electricity is a huge concern for several institutions in Goa, who can benefit by using solar energy. They may have to invest in a solar system but payoffs are assured in the long run. Moreover, the State gets sufficient sunlight throughout the year. Therefore, generation of solar power shouldn’t be a concern.   

There is a popular misconception that solar power can’t be generated in rains. The fact is you need only sunlight to generate solar power. Even during monsoons, Goa gets ample sunlight. So, this concern isn’t valid.   

With State Government giving a thrust through a policy and companies like Orb Energy offering interesting products, it seems solar power will increase penetration in Goa in the future.  

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