Energy 2.0

The new solar power house in india

Posted on: May 6, 2008

The nuclear deal 123 Agreement ultimately promises only 20,000 MW of peak electricity by 2020 for next four decades. The agreement is politically important; however the technology chosen (nuclear) is totally wrong! There are many questions with grey answers when we think of nuclear power and hence these questions become serious concerns. There are technology concerns, legal concerns, operational concerns, sovereignty concerns, safety and security concerns, political concerns and so on. Overall, it may seem that concerns outweigh the benefits.

With this as a backdrop, why can’t we have another agreement with US, say 456 Agreement! 456 Agreement will also be related to electricity; but with a different technology – solar, more specifically, solar thermal! With this agreement we can achieve everything that we hope to achieve with 123 Agreement sans all the concerns! Sounds unbelievable? Then read on…

Bottom line is that…..

Indiais in dire need of power (electricity). The cheap and dirty “solution” is to have coal fired Ultra Mega Power Plants (UMPP), which are being sanctioned and are being built. These UMPPs will emit humongous amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) aiding pollution and global warming. Also, economical coal supplies will not last long. Hence, it is mandatory for us to brace for sustainable energy solutions. Amongst various sustainable energy sources solar energy is basic, unlimited, freely available and guaranteed (available throughout the year in certain parts of our country) and this article discusses the same.

There are two solar technologies to produce electricity – Photovoltaic (PV) and Thermal. Currently, the PV technology that produces electricity directly from incident solar rays using special grade silicon is quite costly. Also, this technology is suitable for colder regions with ample sunlight as PV cells function better in cold conditions – not ideal for India. The solar thermal technology, on the other hand, is a multipurpose technology. Apart from producing electricity, the same plant can be used for desalination of water. This technology uses the heat component of the solar radiation. It is not very costly.

Here’s how to get electricity from solar heat:

  • Solar rays are concentrated using various techniques like linear fresnel lens (cheapest) or solar tower (promising) or parabolic troughs (proven) or parabolic sterling dishes (ideal for non-grid small plants).
  • Water or oil (as heat transfer fluid) is heated using the concentrated solar rays. In case the oil is used then the oil further heats stored water and steam is produced.
  • This steam drives a steam turbine and electricity is generated.
  • The steam can be used as desalinated water or it can be re-circulated.

In order to maximize the power output, the plant must be located at a place that receives a “plenty” of sun throughout the year. One such place in India is Thar Desert in west Rajasthan.


2 Responses to "The new solar power house in india"

[…] Initially, the STPPs would provide only “Peak-hour Power” ie only during daytime when solar energy is available. Later on, when the cost is reduced, the solar energy storage (in the form of say molten salts) can be built to provide … Read More […]

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