5 Solar Energy Myths That Need To Be Buried For Good By Namrata Gulati Sapra/ Updated On Mon, May 29th, 2023 Highlights : Community solar makes it possible to enable a homeowner without a roof to share solar energy from others. Community solar projects allow customers to enjoy the advantages of solar energy without having to install their solar energy system Despite the many benefits that solar energy offers, it continues to be shrouded in myth. However, in the recent past, particularly the last five years, solar has overcome challenges, and many myths, like few heralded energy sources before it. Saur Energy deflates the most common myths around solar. We hope these have not kept you from adopting solar yet! Myth: No sunshine at night equals no electricity at night Fact: One of the most common beliefs around solar energy is that it only works during daytime and does not produce electricity at night or during rainfall. Even though solar and wind energy are only intermittently available only when the sun shines or wind blows, they can be put to use even at night through storage. This can be achieved by way of connection of solar panel with battery backup that promises uninterrupted supply 24/7 . This can also be done through net metering, or connecting with the grid. Now, as storage costs fall, this is becoming a more viable possibility than ever, allowing more and more users to switch completely to Solar in many cases. Udit Kumar, Sales Head, Solar Labs, adds, “When the sun doesn’t shine due to cloudy or rainy weather, solar panels still generate power from the little sunlight reaching the earth. In fact, the solar efficiency level is higher in slightly cold and sunny climates. The reason is that excessive heat interferes with the panels’ ability to convert sunlight (photons) into electricity.” Dr Akanksha Tyagi, Programme Associate, Council on Energy, Environment & Water (CEEW) adds to this view point to establish that solar systems can still produce energy in extreme climates, “Achieving so would require optimising the system design and using a combination of different technologies, including energy storage technologies, as required. At a consumer level, rooftop solar systems integrated with battery storage systems allow storing surplus solar generation and use in the evening when solar is unavailable. Such systems are also beneficial for discoms as they can use them for demand side management, such as to reduce the overall peak demand.” Myth: Consumers should own a roof to install rooftop solar Fact: When compared against other countries, the uptake of rooftop solar in India remains rather slow because of low awareness levels about it and reservations about installing it. Those who do not own a roof, for instance, do not give a thought to going the solar way, thinking of the idea as an impossible one to execute. However, contrary to popular belief, it is still possible to reap the benefits of rooftop solar without a rooftop. Community solar makes it possible to enable a homeowner without a roof to share solar energy from others. Community solar projects allow customers to enjoy the advantages of solar energy without having to install their solar energy system. The arrangement can be understood as a project that operates within a particular location, where multiple customers including individuals, businesses, and others receive the advantages of a solar energy project. Another major myth about rooftop solar is that it can burn a hole in the pocket. Contrarily, there is a slew of policies in place that an installer can avail to milk the benefits of solar energy. Explains Dr Tyagi, “Solar policies in various states have provided innovative metering and billing mechanisms to allow consumers in multi-story apartments or without suitable roof spaces to use solar electricity. These include open access, virtual, and group net metering that enable anyone to avail of solar electricity. Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) research shows that these metering arrangements allow several innovative business models like the community solar model-subscription or upfront payment, solar partners model, and on-bill financing model that can ease the financial burden on consumers.” Elaborating on the multiple concerns on rooftop solar, Udit Kumar, adds, “A prominent concern of homeowners is that a rooftop solar structure will consume their roofs or alter the aesthetics of their property. Well, this was the case thus far, but this has not been the case nowadays. There are solar plants with elevated height that even enhances the utility of your roofs while enjoying the benefits of a solar plant. With the latest technological advancements in industry, residential rooftop solar has transformed.” As indicated by Kumar, rooftop solar, installers nowadays, analyse the challenges in installing or executing a rooftop solar and offer customised rooftop solutions accordingly to the customer. For instance, a rooftop may seem less ideal for solar energy because it may be covered with shadows during some hours of the day. As an answer to this, installers can help spot a place on the roof that gets optimum sunlight and even figure out the height of the structure so the shadow can be surpassed. Further, mounting angles can also be figured out to maximise the potential of the sunlight. Finally, even for apartment owners, innovations have made their way to the market like ‘Balcony solar’ , where two or more solar panels are fixed on the balcony railing to generate power, controlled by a microinverter. The whole set up takes almost no additional space, and can still pack a punch thanks to high output modules today. Myth: Solar energy is expensive Fact: It is a commonly held belief that the installation of solar energy is expensive. This one is easy enough to bust. Solar today is widely considered to be the cheapest source of energy in the world, especially in places that get adequate sunny days. The surplus energy that the solar panel on their rooftop produces can even be transferred to DISCOMs, which, in turn, will pay them basis the energy that is supplied from the rooftop solar! That apart, there is a range of subsidies that are offered by the government to encourage solar offtake that significantly bring down costs for installing solar energy at the end of the day. Over the years, the costs of renewable energy have also seen a downturn, thanks to better technologies, developer initiatives, supply chains that are getting increasingly competitive, higher efficiencies and other reasons. Besides, unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy is not volatile as the former is influenced by market conditions, making it unstable. As trends establish, the prices of fossil fuels, have only seen a rise over time and are not immune to fluctuations. Myth: Renewable energy does not create jobs or innovation Fact: Dr Tyagi puts this myth to rest too, “Renewable energy technologies are also a driver for employment creation and livelihood generation. The deployment of these projects creates a significant number of jobs. CEEW research shows that the solar and wind energy sectors alone employ about 164,000 workers as of the financial year 2022. Furthermore, these technologies have also led to the creation of new microenterprises.” She shares examples, “Several decentralised renewable energy-based livelihood technologies exist, such as solar dryers, silk-reeling machines, and cold storage. CEEW research shows these systems present a market opportunity of USD 50 billion in rural India alone. India recently came up with a first-of-its-kind policy to support decentralised livelihood applications.” Myth: Solar and agriculture cannot work together Fact: Agrivoltaics brings together the world of agriculture and solar by collating them together on the same land. Solar panels are installed on agricultural lands. The approach is seen as a win-win solution that can increase agricultural productivity, reduce land use conflicts, and promote sustainable energy generation. Solar panels generate electricity, which can be used on-site or fed into the grid, providing a source of renewable energy. At the same time, solar panels offer benefits like shading and reducing evaporation, which can improve crop yields and water use efficiency. Agrivoltaics are gaining interest and attention as a promising solution to address the challenges of food security, climate change, and energy transition. Tags: agrivoltaics, CEEW, comunity solar, Deflating myths about solar, Myths about solar energy, Rooftop Solar, Solar Labs, solar subsidies.