From boiling water on stove to having solar powered heaters on the roof, the water heating industry in India has seen a phenomenal change.
Solar water heaters (SWH) are widely used in residential and commercial segments. In residential segment - individual houses and apartments - it is primarily used for bathing applications. In various segments of commercial businesses like hospitals, hospitality, education (hostels) etc, it is used to a great extent for their kitchen and laundry applications in addition to bathing. In industry processes, it is used for process heating in addition to a very common application like hot water for canteens.
The commercial sectors are large consumers of hot water and they consume a lot of traditional energy sources such as electricity, gas, or diesel which are very expensive as well as environmentally unfriendly due to the emission of harmful gases like carbon dioxide (CO2). There is a significant shift among commercial users where many of them have started opting for eco-friendly products like solar water heaters. The resultant savings in fuel costs make a very compelling case of attractive payback periods of 18 to 30 months for various commercial and domestic applications of SWH.
There is a high level of confidence among Indian consumers about solar products as the efficacy of many solar powered devices and solutions has been appropriately established. The solar water heating (SWH) solutions have established their relevance for Indian consumers because of the possibility of its usage across the country throughout a large part of the year, owing to abundant sunlight available in our country. These factors definitely make a very attractive case for consumers to adopt SWH solutions in accelerated manner. The positive impact of SWH usage on reduction in CO2 emissions in the environment is also helping to generate a lot of positive word-of-mouth publicity.
The government has also mandated use of SWH in new buildings wherein it becomes obligatory for the developers to install SWH equipment for all the residents. It has been observed that the demand from realty sector increases rapidly when there is a proper enforcement of the mandate done by the local governing bodies. Hence, there is an urgent need of reviewing the status of SWH implementation in new buildings and also assessing the sanctity of the ‘mandatory use enforcements’ in new buildings. In a few states, the government is using push strategy aggressively. For instance, Karnataka has made it mandatory for SWH installation for every new building. Other states are also following it in order to reduce their peak load demands.
The government may use some incentives like rebates in electricity bill or property tax in order to create favourable consumer pull for SWH, thereby accelerating its usage among Indian consumers.
The solar heating industry size is approximately Rs 500 crore per annum and is expected to grow at about eight per cent CAGR over the next three to five years. This growth will be driven by greater acceptance of SWH solutions across the country as well as in more applications in segments such as like realty, hospitality, hospitals, dairy, and process heating in industries.
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