R.Ramabhadran Pillai

Modifications in building bylaws proposed; model regulation issued by the Centre

Subsidy to users of solar water heating systemsEntrepreneurs welcome the schemeCall for similar incentives for other solar energy systems

KOCHI: The Government is implementing a scheme for accelerated development and deployment of solar water heating systems in domestic, industrial and commercial sectors.

Support will be provided to municipalities and corporations that adopt the modifications to the building bylaws for making solar-assisted water heating systems mandatory in certain categories of buildings, according to officials of the Ministry of Non-Conventional Sources.

A model regulation on building bylaws has reportedly been issued by the Centre. It envisages mandatory installation of solar-assisted water heating systems in certain categories of buildings. Local bodies that incorporate the regulation in their building bylaws are eligible for a one-time grant. Municipalities can get Rs.5 lakhs while municipal corporations can get a grant of Rs.10 lakhs.

Under the scheme, installation of solar water heating systems to cover 300000 sq.m. of collector area has been fixed as the target for 2005-06. Out of this, 200000 sq.m. will be in the domestic sector, 50,000 sq.m. in the institutional sector and 50,000 sq.m. in the industrial/ commercial sector.

The targets are to be achieved by providing subsidy to the users of solar water heaters and incentive to motivators. There will be support for organising seminars, symposia, workshops, business meets, exhibitions, awareness campaigns, technology upgradation, surveys and training programme.

The scheme is being implemented through the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and other financial institutions. Soft loans are being offered at two per cent to domestic users, three per cent to institutional users and five per cent to industrial/ commercial users.

The borrowers are eligible for loan up to 85 per cent of the cost of the systems, repayable over a period of five years.

Water heating systems consisting of flat plate collectors (FPCs) or evacuated tube collectors (ETCs) will be eligible for subsidy under the scheme. The manufacturers or suppliers of the systems with FPCs should have approval from the Bureau of Indian Standards and those of ETCs from MNES test centres.

Welcoming the scheme, K. Georgekutty, an entrepreneur in the solar energy sector, mooted incentives for propagation of various systems based on solar energy.

His company, Lifeway Solar, has introduced a solar milking machine, but the Government is yet to offer any subsidy to the buyers.

The machine is helpful to dairy workers in rural areas where frequent power cuts pose problems. The cost of the milking machine is Rs.85,000 now, but subsidy element could make it more attractive in the market, he points out.

Nevertheless, his company is actively involved in promoting solar water heaters. G.Sivaramakrishnan, another entrepreneur, stresses on the need for more support from the Government for solar energy projects. Solar energy systems should be installed at Government buildings so as to give the right message to people, according to him.