Schools with a difference
Solar energy has many benefits such as reduction in electricity bills, zero pollution, zero maintenance and long- term return on investment. In Uttarakhand, typically, the returns on the solar panel investment are returned within 3-6 years through savings made on electricity bills. Beyond the initial 3-6 year period, the solar panel system provides better returns than most investments through savings on electricity bills alone. Some schemes offered by Uttarakhand government pay the generator per unit provided to the grid, giving even better returns in the long run.
Where can the solar panels be installed?
Pick an area which receives minimal shade such as a roof-top or open ground to install solar panels. In case of rooftops, ensure the roof is strong enough to take the weight of solar panels.
Solar panels work best when they face directly into the sun. But that task is complicated by the fact that the sun moves across the sky throughout the day. It also changes angle in the sky as the seasons change. So when you build a solar system, the question is: what’s the best angle to mount your solar panels to get the most output?
Solar panels can be mounted on slanting roofs which have a suitable angle and direction, or they can be placed on different kinds of mounts.
What direction should the solar panels face?
In the Northern Hemisphere the panel should face south and tilt from horizontal at an angle approximately equal to the site's latitude to maximize generation. For example, if the system were located in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, the PV panel should face south and tilt up at an angle of approximately 30°.
A diagram illustrating a south-facing solar panel (PV module) with optimum tilt angle matching the latitude (Figure from Mohammed et al. 2019)
Solar panels can be installed at a fixed angle, or adjusted to optimize output in different seasons. Additionally, a tracker can be installed to optimize power generation. But its more cost-effective to install a few additional panels than investing in a tracker.
How many panels should we install?
Calculate your energy requirement to figure out the electricity generated by the solar plant.
A simple solar calculator such as this can be used.
To calculate overall costs involved in installing the solar panels, the solar rooftop calculator by GOI can be used. Click here to access it.
Installing Solar Plant in Uttarakhand
To initiate the process of solar installation, register at https://usrp.upcl.org/ website and fill the required form.
Once the form is approved by UPCL and a technical NOC provided, the solar plant will be installed by one of the empaneled vendors as selected by you.
To complete the installation a bi-directional meter will be installed by UPCL, after which the plant will be connected to the grid. The process can be understood in greater detail here .
There are various subsidy schemes available for solar panels which may change time to time. Schemes typically include a certain amount of subsidy on solar panel cost or cost benefits in electricity bill based on net metering calculations. Several companies handle the paperwork and installation of solar panels in Uttarakhand, making it very easy for schools and households to opt for solar energy.
To know more about the process, please refer to this booklet.
Other things to keep in mind
An inverter is needed to convert the DC current generated by the solar panels to AC. Therefore, selecting a good inverter is very important. Microinverters are useful in this regard.