The Uniform Solar Energy Code introduced by the Indian Plumbing Association will help adopt safe and competent solar energy systems. R. Ramabhadran Pillai says the voluntary code is a lucid and comprehensive reference.

India is a sun-drenched land. But the nation remains a net importer of oil with a large energy deficit. Hence, harnessing solar energy is one of the focus areas in its plans to attain energy security.

Introduction of modern technology and conservation of energy are among strategies being adopted towards that end. While the government is initiating policies aimed at expanding the solar energy base, various agencies in the private sector are engaged in supporting the initiative in their own ways.

The Indian Plumbing Association, a body of builders, architects, consultants and end-users, has brought out its Uniform Solar Energy Code, 2012, to adopt good practices in the execution of solar energy projects so as to increase the output. The code, released in Kochi on Thursday, is a product of the joint efforts of the association and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, U.S.

The voluntary code will be applicable all over India. The organisation will submit it to the Union government, which can adopt it as such or use it to formulate a code on similar lines.

The code was prepared to incorporate and implement the latest technology and systems in solar energy, Sudhakaran Nair, president of the association, says. The modified code has kept all basic principles of the original code intact but has been made to suit Indian laws, conditions and good engineering practices, he says. The code has been designed to provide a lucid and comprehensive technical reference to citizens, apart from providing an opportunity for adopting innovative practices. A technical committee consisting of consultants, project managers, contractors and others has prepared it, he says.

One of the key clauses pertains to labelling or third party certification, a practice akin to that adopted for the manufacture and sale of energy-efficient electrical gadgets. Accordingly, all pipes, pipe fittings, fixtures and devices used in a solar energy system shall be listed or labelled by an accredited assessing body and shall conform to approved standards. The gadgets will have to be approved by the stipulated authority regulating the solar energy sector.

The clauses on piping insist on installation of backflow preventers to prevent mixing of potable and non-potable water. “Connections between potable and non-potable water supplies in a solar energy system shall not be permitted unless backflow preventers approved by the authority having jurisdiction are installed,” a clause says.

Backflow preventers are important as long as the possibility of water contamination exists. The gadgets are imported now which indicates the lack of awareness of the issue in the country, Mr. Nair says.

Colour code

In buildings where potable and non-potable water systems are installed, each shall be clearly identified with separate colours and letters. A potable water system will have a green background, while a non-potable system will have a yellow background.

One of the important applications of the new code will be in solar water heaters, P. Ramachandran, chairman of the association’s Kerala chapter, says. There are gadgets of poor quality imported from China and other countries. The use of such material will have an impact on energy production and transmission, he says.

The association is coordinating the activities on the code with the Indian Green Building Council, which accords green ratings for buildings. There is a common platform where builders, architects and others can discuss relevant issues. Various professional bodies have already started implementing the code.

Mr. Ramachandran hopes that it will be a matter of time before the code gets implemented at the official level.