A rapid surge in demand for electricity is putting pressure on the current sources of energy, and there is a need for more growth of renewable sources.
The cities are quick to adapt to the changing needs. You would easily find houses and buildings dotted with rooftop solar energy installations. However, the rural areas are still slow to adapt to solar alternatives. There may be several reasons for this; mostly problems concerning the high cost of such installations. Another reason is the approach of the government towards making harnessing solar energy a common practice.
Most parts of India receive 4-7 Kwh of solar radiation, which equals 2300-3200 sunshine hours per year. This abundance of sunlight promises great potential for a ‘solar revolution’, an energy ecosystem wherein more than 70% of our domestic electricity needs can come free of cost, from sunlight. They can power up your homes 100% and can also heat them depending on your usage and the amount of sunlight received.
A substantially viable answer to this could be solar shingles. Solar shingles fall into the category of building-integrated photovoltaics. They are solar panels which double-up as the roof. They perform the roof function just like asphalt, wood or slate shingle but additionally generate electricity.
In their mechanism they are exactly similar to conventional photovoltaic cells. They follow the same process for generating electricity from sunlight. When the sunlight/photons strike the photovoltaic cells, electrons present in the underlying semiconductor material gain this energy and are set free (gain an excited state) from their respective orbits. All these free electrons from the cells, constitute the current which is generated practically cost-free. It is the cleanest, greenest, and the cheapest way to produce electricity till now.
This means that all the solar arrangement will be a part of your house and not some extra installation. This is useful because, one it saves the extra space, two it combines the cost of PV cells with the cost of roofing, so it is economical in the long run. More like killing two birds with one stone. A comfortable, aesthetic looking roof which generates free electricity. Moreover solar shingles perform better than regular solar panels even in low or diffused sunlight. You would still be getting your free electricity during winters or in the rainy season. India is on an ambitious trajectory with its renewable energy goals. The central govt is already offering a 30% discount on the installation of rooftop PV systems. In the near future, it could promote solar shingles with a more fervent approach.
Scope of solar roofs/shingles in India:
So far Indians have adopted rooftop solar installations which saves space, but to install roofs fitted with PV cells is another thing altogether. There are several Indian companies which are taking big leaps in production of solar tiles, or technology for fitting photovoltaic cells with roofs. Solar shingles are known by other names like solar tiles. They are a great alternative to those looking to replace their roof tiles. Eco-conscious home and building owners are showing interest in these economical solar tiles options.
These solar tiles look attractive, and double as highly functional, weatherproof roofs. Solar shingles or solar tiles are a breakthrough invention in the field of sustainable energy. Besides the functions listed above they help regulate temperatures too.
There are however a number of issues and challenges to the adoption of solar shingles. Solar roof tiles and shingles have been more expensive than conventional PV cells , however they are gradually becoming more cost-competitive. If you decide to use building integrated PV, it is actually more cost-effective to install shingles when replacing the roof. The solar panels can simply be integrated with the conventional asphalt or slate roof shingles. An average homeowner can save anywhere from 50-70% by using solar roof tiles.
However besides the current high cost there are a few other challenges like the orientation of your roof. While PV cells can be aligned to get maximum sun, the roof is static and may not have the best angle to catch the sunlight for most hours of the day. It can be most useful in mountainous regions which get ample sunlight and in places where houses are well separated, quite unlike the congestion in cities.
Though currently these may not be much popular, they will soon catch up. When all the open tracts of land have been converted into solar fields, our solar energy goals will pave the way for newer and more sustainable methods like rooftop solar shingles. With their evolution, their prices will fall and they will come into the budget brackets of most of the sections of the society. Presently, these methods may be not as efficient or as economical. However, the argument in favour of solar shingles is quite straightforward. What would you prefer, a roof which is just a roof or a roof which is also your battery and the source of electricity for your home? Evidently, there isn’t much of a choice here.
Leave A Comment