India’s new national helpline for Solar Water Heaters
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India has initiated a voice-activated National Helpline on Solar Water Heaters since 15 September 2011. This helpline was started for awareness of the technology and to answer the questions of general people. This service is being supervised by the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI). It has a help desk, which has a toll-free number (1800 2 33 44 77), providing services from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM between Monday and Friday, and on Saturdays, 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM. This call center offers help in both Hindi and English languages. The initiative is a part of UNDP/Global Environment Facility Global Solar Water Heating Project (GSWHP).
It is a permanent service to the sector answering the question about the solar thermal. The fast-developing solar water heater market in India positions amongst the top 10 in the world.
According to the Union Government of India, the potential of the solar water heater is nearly 140 million m2. Of the 20 million m2 declared as a goal in the national Solar Mission Plan, 9 million m2 were already fixed until June 2011. Considering the huge possibility and the pace with which it is discovered, the helpline is predicted to develop proper awareness and reach a larger group of the public.
The basic purpose of this helpline is to direct customers to the nearest supplier of solar water heaters of their areas. On payment of nominal charges, Manufacturers can get registered with the call center and add customers to their network of dealers and installers. Only Approved manufacturers can take part in the national incentive program. Another reason was better disseminated information about the advantages of solar water heaters, as well as information about incentives and financing relevant to solar thermal technology.
The type of calls attended every quarter will be registered in a database and contributed with the MNRE. In addition, the call center gathers complaints of the existing clients of a particular company and shares this information with the respective business to improve the quality. The data will also help the ministry chalk out future policies.