Solar energy has been developed in Israel and Japan as a substitute to the conventional energy that runs in the grid in the two countries. A number of houses and business houses have their own solar plants installed on the roofs of the buildings—no crisis—no breakdowns as we experience any moment in most of the parts in India.
For the households in India the only relief given in this respect has been the four container box type solar cooker. It is rather a crazy thing that can be used only by those who have the sun in their courtyard the whole day. Moreover it takes hours to cook. It can’t be of any help in the houses in the lanes and bylines of cities and towns. Then again it only cooks—doesn’t allow you to use the solar energy for any thing else.
A Canadian Institute has collaborated with an Institute in Israel. It has developed a plant of 10 KW power level. Another one of 450 KW was expected soon after. Sicily had developed a solar power generator in 1981 to supply power to the national grid.
In 1981 an aeroplane fed with solar energy crossed the British Channel. India too has supplied electricity to 10,000 villages with Solar energy. Central Electronics Ltd. (CEL) manufactured 600 KW of solar cells in 1984. By 1990 it produced half a megawatt of solar cells with the help of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL).
If we have to live in a mountainous range or the interior most part of a forest or a far off interior village we require a host of things—hot dishes- warm bedding—a lamp for studies. We should be in a position to move with
:ne apparatus that provides these facilities in case we have to migrate. The apparatus should be handy. Thus besides the experiments of solar energy for light and hand pump or for street lighting or supply to the national grid we require small handy gadgets for the households offices, business houses and small workshops.
A Hyderabad firm has already specialized in solar lanterns and solar power systems for remote rural telephone exchanges. It has already received an order to supply 25,000 units. The South is making a remarkable headway in other small gadgets too.
Now it is the Turn of Tamil Nadu. K.E. Raghunathan developed a small solar lamp in 1987 during the course of his Engineering degree. In a very short period of time his bedroom lab. was shifted to Small Scale Industries based in the industrial suburb of Ambattur on the outskirts of Chennai. In the beginning it had a meagre turnover of 4.5 and was a one product company. The hard work put by Raghunathan paid off. He established Solker Enterprises Ltd. manufacturing a unique solar powered portable lamp. It provides 10 hours of 40 watt fluorescent light. It costs Rs. 5,500. The government gives subsidy of Rs. 2,000 for its purchase to farmers, fisherfolk, handicapped and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe people. The government has already given an order of over one lakh lamps under the Prime Minister’s Programme.
The company has proliferated further to manufacture the solar meal maker. It has a tie with Schewarzer, a German Scientist. He has supplied the technology; but has bargained it with 49 per cent equity shares. It is different from the box type system and can prepare meal for 25 to 30 persons. It is very fast (like an electric oven) and can undertake all those recipes that are prepared on a gas-stove. It can fry too.
The greatest achievement is that every thing is done in the kitchen—only the heat source is outdoors. It does not pollute the environment too. It costs Rs. 32,500 and is being assisted by Industrial Credit Investment Corporation of India Ltd. (ICICI). The condition is that after 201st cooker onwards the company will pay 200 per cent of the loan as royalty to ICICI. If the project fails (not expected) it is the ICICI that loses the money. The pieces have been already exported to Chile and Barkina Faso.