Solar Power In India

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India has one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world, as well as an expansive population of above 1.1 billion people. There is a very high demand for energy, which is currently satisfied mainly by coal, foreign oil and petroleum, which apart from being a non-renewable, and therefore non-permanent solution to the energy crisis, it is also detrimental to the environment. India is blessed with an abundance of sunlight, water and biomass. Vigorous efforts during the past two decades are now bearing fruit as people in all walks of life are more aware of the benefits of renewable energy, especially decentralized energy where required in villages and in urban or semi-urban centers. India has the world’s largest program for renewable energy.

India is endowed with rich solar energy resource. The average intensity of solar radiation received on India is 200 MW/km square (megawatt per kilometre square). With a geographical area of 3.287 million km square, this amounts to 657.4 million MW. However, 87.5% of the land is used for agriculture, forests, fallow lands, etc., 6.7% for housing, industry, etc., and 5.8% is either barren, snow bound, or generally inhabitable. Thus, only 12.5% of the land area amounting to 0.413 million km square can, in theory, be used for solar energy installations. Even if 10% of this area can be used, the available solar energy would be 8 million MW, which is equivalent to 5,909 mtoe (million tons of oil equivalent) per year.

However, solar energy is a dilute source. The energy collected by 1 m square of a solar collector in a day is approximately equal to that released by burning 1 kg of coal or 1/2 litre of kerosene

Solar energy technologies consists of :

  1. Solar Thermal Technologies :- Which utilize sun’s thermal energy
  2. Solar Photovoltaic Technology :- Which convert solar energy directly in to electricity.

Solar Thermal Technologies

Solar thermal energy has a number of attractive features, which make it a very desirable energy source for India. Ample sunshine throughout the year ensures uninterrupted energy supply. In India, sunshine varies from 2300 to 3200 hours per year and the annual global radiation is 4?5 kWh/m2 -day, fairly spread over 80% of the country.

Solar thermal technologies can be used for both, supplying thermal energy as well as for generating electricity. Applications of solar thermal technologies include

  •  solar water and space heating ,
  •  solar process heating for industrial applications ,
  • solar drying ,
  • solar refrigeration and air conditioning ,
  • solar cooking ,
  • solar passive architecture ,
  • solar water desalination and water purification
  • solar thermal power generation.

Solar Photovoltaic Technology

Solar photovoltaic technology (SPV) is primarily a semiconductor-based technology used to convert solar radiation into direct electricity. A basic PV system comprises PV modules and the balance of systems (BOS). Balance of systems includes support structure, wiring, storage, power electronics, etc.

Components of PV system
A PV system consists of the following components.

  1. PV panels (also known as solar panels)
  2. Battery
  3. Charge controller
  4. Inverter/converter
  5. Mounting structure and tracking device
  6.  Interconnections and other devices

BOS (Balance of system) includes all the components mentioned above except for the PV panels. In other words, a PV system consists of a PV panel and BOS. However component varies from application to application. Sizing of the systems is based on some design practices.

Solar power in India is a fast developing industry. The country’s solar installed capacity reached 23 GW as of 30 June 2018. India expanded its solar-generation capacity 8 times from 2,650 MW on 26 May 2014 to over 20 GW as on 31 January 2018. The 20 GW capacity was initially targeted for 2022 but the government achieved the target four years ahead of schedule. The country added 3 GW of solar capacity in 2015-2016, 5 GW in 2016-2017 and over 10 GW in 2017-2018, with the average current price of solar electricity dropping to 18% below the average price of its coal-fired counterpart.

In January 2015 the Indian government expanded its solar plans, targeting US$100 billion in investment and 100 GW of solar capacity (including 40 GW from rooftop solar) by 2022. India’s initiative of 100 GW of solar energy by 2022 is an ambitious target, since the world’s installed solar-power capacity in 2017 is expected to be 303 GW.