India’s state-run fuel retailers are persuading petrol pump owners to go green by setting up solar power units. Setting up solar power plants is not a token of commitment to the environment. Instead, it is making business sense as rising cost of running petrol pumps eat into dealer income.
Experiments by Indian Oil, the country’s largest fuel retailer, in 2015 showed running outlets on solar power costs less than burning diesel in generators to keep pumps running, especially in the hinterland.
Since then, Indian Oil, which holds sway over nearly half of India’s fuel retail market, has been driving its dealers to switch to green power by arranging easy loans through a tie up with SBI and other assistance.
Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum too have joined the bandwagon but are slower.
All these result in uninterrupted operation and no loss of sales. Depending upon the size of the petrol pump, a 24 kw (kilo watt) rooftop photovoltaic system can reduce costs by more than Rs 7 lakh a year.
This is nearly 50% less than the average annual electricity bill, based on commercial rates that are higher than domestic tariffs, for grid supply. There are other benefits too such as accelerated depreciation.
A solar plant not only ensures continuous power but it ensures quality power and prevents equipment (at outlets) from tripping due to supply interruptions or (voltage) fluctuation. Pollution from generators is also checked.