Power from rooftops is not a pipe dream

Photovoltaic (PV) effect is the method of converting sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. Some semiconductor materials produce electric current when light falls on them.

A PV system comprises of solar panels that are composed of modules, and cells made of special semiconductor materials, placed behind a special glass.

Solar panels can be installed on the rooftops of homes/offices/factories that are presently not put to commercial use. Since most electrical applications use alternate current (AC), an inverter is typically used to convert DC into AC. The system can be either grid-connected or a standalone application.

PV technology has been in existence for almost five decades. Because of their until-now-prohibitive costs, they were initially used only in special applications such as powering of satellites. Now the costs have come down drastically, thanks mainly due to incentives provided by national governments. In addition, the exponential expansion of worldwide solar PV capacity has cut costs drastically.

Several nation states have even initiated measures to reduce support subsidies as they are no longer required. Even in India, the Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) recently indicated that it is to be reduced up to 15 per cent from the present level of 30 per cent. Net metering, however, is an essential framework for SRPS to remain relevant.

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