In recent years, India has witnessed a gradual shift from fossil fuels to clean energy. This transition can be termed as the dawn of a new era: the era of solar energy, that is bound to become the mainstream source of energy. Since Bihar is the second fastest growing economy in India, it cannot remain unaffected by this radical change that has taken place in the energy sector of the country. After the 2015 assembly elections, Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar introduced his much ambitious ‘Saat Nishchay’ (‘Seven Resolves’), under which ‘Electricity for All’ is one of the most important components.
In order to achieve the target of ensuring power access to its citizens, the Bihar Government has allocated the highest share of budget to the energy sector in the past two years. The Bihar Renewable Energy Development Authority (BREDA) has also taken major steps in the field of solar irrigation and solar lightening for the benefits of the masses. BREDA is also under the process of notifying the Bihar RE Policy 2017, which is intended to attract investment in the renewable energy sector of the state.
Moreover, the Bihar Government in collaboration with BREDA is also planning to install 6000 grid-connected rooftop solar plants of 1 kW capacity. The total subsidy provided under this scheme will be 80% (50% by state and 20% by centre), which means that each individual will have to bear only 20% of the total cost. A typical 1 kW system produces 4.5 units daily (135 units per month), which can be easily used to light 4 tube lights and 2 fans.
During the last month, BERC along with two Distribution Companies in Bihar, NBPDCL and SBPDCL, has introduced revised grid electricity tariffs for Bihar. The new power tariff has risen by almost 20% in all consumer categories, despite the subsidy provided by the government. The revised tariffs will lead to an increased financial burden on the consumers, which in turn will increase burden by INR 600-700 per month per household for a typical 300 units usage. Considering the increased burden for each household, it is both advisable and feasible that the domestic consumers shift to solar for their daily electricity needs.
Comparing grid tariff to solar tariff, we gather that for 135 units, the grid connected electricity will cost INR 7000- 8000 per year, as compared to INR 1000 per year from 1 KW Solar Rooftop System (under government scheme). This cost comparison between conventional and renewable sources of energy indicates that in the years to come, solar is going to become the best energy alternative since it is cheaper and a more reliable source of electricity. As they say, it’s better late than never! Keeping in mind the need of the hour, domestic consumers must consider shifting their focus from grid electricity to solar.
Pooja Kumari is a Programme Officer- Clean Energy with CEED India.