Increased awareness of the benefits of using renewable energy has resulted in solar water heaters and lanterns finding a lot of takers in Puducherry. The subsidies available for renewable energy appliances is an added incentive.

According to officials of the Renewable Energy Agency of Puducherry (REAP), solar water heaters of a total daily capacity of 37,125 litres have been installed in Puducherry, from 2005 to 2009.

At least ten applications for solar water heater subsidies are received every month, an official added.

Although these heaters are expensive, with a 100-litre capacity heater costing around Rs. 18,500, REAP provides a subsidy of Rs. 3000 per heater, upon producing proof of purchase along with the application.

Subsidies are granted to dealers of these appliances approved by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

People, especially fishermen have evinced a lot of interest in solar lanterns, officials say. Between 2001 and 2009, over 507 lanterns, each costing around Rs. 4,000, have been given a subsidy of Rs. 1,550 by REAP.

In recent years, fishermen from Mahe have been availing around 100 subsidies a year, officials revealed.

Apart from heaters and lanterns, REAP has been providing subsidies for a host of other appliances such as solar cookers, water pumps and solar industrial air-heating systems, in order to encourage people to decrease their dependence on polluting fuels.

Subsidies are also provided for complete solar ‘homelighting’ systems, which consist of a 37-watt solar panel, charge controller, battery and two Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs).

Appearance in public sphere

Solar-powered devices have made an appearance in the public sphere as well. The solar powered street lamps have already become a notable feature on Puducherry’s beach. Institutions and non-commercial outfits receive a subsidy of Rs. 9,600 from the MNRE on these streetlights. 417 such streetlights have been installed in the Union Territory.

The government has also set an example for the public, with the installation of a 25-kilowatt solar power plant, at the Secretariat building in 2003-04.

Officials of REAP also say that the scheme of providing two CFLs to ration card holders at the price of one, has also met with very encouraging response. With the price coming down, response is bound to get better, the official added.

The agency, which is the State Nodal Agency for the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and MNRE is currently drawing out its budget allocation and new schemes.