Name: Pramod Joshi
Occupation: Solar Engineer
Location of panels: Delhi, India
What made you go solar?
Well that’s a tricky question but I guess my love for nature as well as the noticeable shortage of electricity were my main reasons to go solar. My village is deep in the mountains in the Northern part of India . Its a remote area with no supply of electricity so people used to use lalterns which hardly produce light. Results were low literacy rate, no contact with the outer world, poverty, etc.
In 2009, there was a boom in solar industry in India. Also, the government starting providing people with many policies & subsides making it possible to install solar panels for lighting. After I received my Bachelors in engineering, I decided to do something for my people so I contacted some local vendors and with a couple of my friends. I was able to then install some solar lighting systems in village especially with the help of subsidies provided by the government.
How has your life changed since you went solar?
Prior to going solar, the life and development in my village was slow. The people’s lives used to revolve around farms, cattle, etc., but now there is so much more enthusiasm in them. People now have radios and 1-2 televisions in the village. The people from my village now can really understand things they used to just hear about. There is now a facility with internet in the local school where children take online lectures. This brings the students closer to the outside world while increasing their imagination and desire to succeed in life. Some kids have been able to go to college as they have become more aware and open to the outer world.
What’s the best part about being solar?
My father used to say “everyone has to do his part in war, doesn’t matter if he is the general or a normal soldier.” This is the same way we feel when we contribute to something that is reducing the pollution level of our mother earth and making it a better place to live in. Also, we trained local workers for maintenance of the systems which in turn has encouraged the young to continue their studies and go to colleges. Another great thing about being solar is that solar power is completely free of cost after installation, so it is a good option in remote areas where it is more difficult to provide electricity.
The solar lighting installation has led to further benefits. Now, companies are approaching nearby villages and offering solar solutions like solar lanterns, solar battery chargers for mobiles, etc. Many people has availed the subsidies offered by government and installed solar to power their homes.
What tips do you have for others who want to go solar?
Talking of the Indian situation, there are so many companies in the market that it is necessary to do detailed research before hiring anyone because many of them dont even know the basics of solar. Here are some tips I think will be helpful:
- Do a detailed research of companies offering solar services, panels, etc. because there are cheap modules, inverters, batteries available in the market that don’t last long.
- Search for government policies / subsidies and AVAIL them .
- Ask the installers to provide training so that you know what you have installed and you could take care of it when needed.
- Check the records of the company to see if their previous installations are working satisfactorily.
- Don’t worry about the payback period and just go for it. Encourage as many people as you can because it’s not only a noble cause but also gives you a chance to contribute to save nature.
ASES will hold its annual National Solar Tour this fall where you can show your home, host a tour or go on a tour.