Bengaluru: Major urban centres around the world are embracing renewable energy sources to power homes and businesses, but Bengaluru is unlikely to feature in that hallowed list anytime soon. Since 2014, only 1,750 solar panels have been installed atop complexes in the city, with the least number of units coming up at government buildings.
The dismal record is reflected in the data compiled by Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom), and it has complicated the utility’s target of generating 1,200 MW of electricity through solar panels till 2020. To date, it has achieved only 106 MW.
Now, Bescom is looking to install rooftop solar units at nearly 400 government buildings in the city, including Vidhan Soudha; MS Building, which houses the state secretariat; Raj Bhavan, police stations and public hospitals. Currently, there are only 57 units at government-owned properties.
Residential buildings top the list with 1,260 solar-panel units, followed by commercial establishments (226), industrial plants (118), and educational institutions (103).
The tender for installation of more solar panels at government buildings was issued earlier this year and the contract will be awarded within six months. “The tender has been delayed by more than a year. It was issued twice before, but a poor response forced us to cancel it,” a Bescom official said.
In September 2018, Bescom started accepting online applications for rooftop solar panels. So far, it has over 550 applications, which, if executed, would add 30 MW to Bescom’s total installed capacity, another official said.
“Once solar panels are installed in 400 government buildings, the capacity will increase by around 9 to 10 MW,” the official said.
Box 1: Outlook is not sunny for B’luru
Solar panels and installed capacity in the city
Number of units: 1,260
Installed capacity: 35.336 MW
Number of units: 226
Installed capacity: 30.3 MW
Number of units: 118
Installed capacity: 31.59 MW
Number of units: 103
Installed capacity: 7.6 MW
Number of units: 57
Installed capacity: 1.16 MW
Box 2: 400 govt structures to get solar panels
Bescom is looking to equip nearly 400 government buildings in the city with rooftop solar units. These include Vidhan Soudha; MS Building, which houses the state secretariat; Raj Bhavan, police stations and public hospitals.
Seattle, the home of Amazon Inc, has quadrupled its solar power capacity in the past six years. India’s tech capital, in comparison, added only 1,750 solar panels during the period. Woefully inadequate. A variety of factors — price, permissions, proper placement — might be dissuading businesses and residential complexes from quickly embracing this clean source of energy. But government buildings shouldn’t have any excuses — they should be leading the way in installing solar panels, reducing reliance on Bengaluru’s electricity grid. Nearly 400 government buildings have now been identified for this change, and the plan should be implemented at the earliest.