Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Solar Power Blues

The support for stand alone solar photovoltaic residential electricity systems remains very poor in India. Especially when they have to be set up in remote locations which is where they are most needed. We recently installed a solar photovoltaic system along with a solar inverter in field centre of the Mahila Jagat Lihaaz Samiti in Pandutalav village. However, it is not functioning properly. The local supplier could not diagnose what the mistake was for quite some time. I then had to try and find out what was wrong by testing various parts with measuring devices which I had to buy. Finally it became clear that the solar inverter had some problem. This inverter is a special kind that maximises the use of solar input during the day also apart from charging the battery and was sourced from a German company having its office in Chennai. Since the ecosystem for solar inverters  is not well developed and their sales are not very high, obviously this company cannot have service centres all over India. So the solar inverter has now been sent to the company office in Chennai for testing and repair which means a down time of around ten days at least. In the meanwhile our centre will remain in the dark!!

Setting up a solar system is costly as with panels, inverter and battery the cost of the system comes to about Rs 80 per rated watt. Actual power output averaged over the year is much less than the rated wattage due to variations in solar insolation with seasons and so the actual cost is much more. If on top of that there are problems with servicing then the chances of solar power catching on at the household level are even dimmer. That is what is happening as there are very few people who are prepared to install solar panels.
We installed a solar system in our office in Indore also. In an effort to maximise the use of the solar power during day time I improvised a system that would allow the running of the refrigerator on solar power during the day. However, since the fridge compressor uses power only intermittently there is an intermittent load. Sometimes when the printer is used, very rarely as mostly these days documents are sent by email, then the load shoots up beyond the capacity of the solar system and the inverter trips. Normally, this overload induced tripping can be set right by resetting the inverter but on two occasions the internal fuse of the inverter blew. So a complaint had to be registered with the inverter company. Luckily, the system in our office in Indore has a standard inverter connected to a solar prioritiser unit and so the repair could be done in Indore itself since standard inverters have a big market. However, for remoter locations, once again the problem of service crops up. So for the time being I have switched the refrigerator on to the mains during day time also to avoid more tripping and fuse blowing.
All this underlines the need for more pro-active support to the residential standalone solar power sector by the Government instead of its concentration on large solar parks set up on an industrial scale to supply into the grid. The subsidies provided to such industrial scale solar plants have brought down the cost of power from these plants hugely but the standalone solar power sector continues to dither along.

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