Energy 2.0

TAPPING SOLAR ENERGY

Posted on: May 22, 2008

India is a sunny country with a solar energy potential of 20 mw every square km. At present, only a tiny fraction of it is being tapped. Solar energy can be used directly in two forms – producing heat or light. Production of light and electric current from the sun’s rays uses ‘photovoltaic technology’, which involves direct conversion of sunlight into electricity.The thermal form, which is used for cooking, water heating or purification, drying and fruit ripening, distillation or producing steam for power generation, is more economical. Solar cookers are already well-known and popular. Solar cooking has been recommended even in the Rig Veda which says: ‘All edibles ripened or cooked in the sun’s rays change into super medicine, the amrita”.  Solar energy has every thing to recommend it. Unlimited and non-polluting. It will neither drain our mineral resources nor submerge large tracts under dam waters. If only it could be tapped cheaply. That is what technicians are trying to do the world over.

New Schemes

            The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy supports Research, Design and Development (RD&D) activities in New and Renewable Energy including solar energy in the country. Comprehensive guidelines for supporting and accelerating pace of Research, Design and Development leading to eventual manufacture and deployment of various Renewable Energy Systems including solar energy have been put in place.

An amount of Rs. 600 crore has been tentatively allocated for Research, Design and Development in  the Energy Sector for the 11th Five Year Plan. During the last Five Year Plan period, Rs. 72.65 crore were spent for the same activities.  The Ministry has financially sported about 600 RD&D Projects particularly in  Solar Energy Sector.

 New  schemes have been launched  by  the Ministry  in addition to implementation of ongoing schemes to encourage large-scale use of solar energy in the country during the 11th Five Year Plan Period. The new schemes include ‘Development of Solar Cities’ and ‘Demonstration Programme on MW size Grid Solar Power Generation’. In addition, Research and Development thrust areas for solar and other New and Renewable Energy Technologies for the 11th Five Year Plan period have also been identified and publicised through newspaper and website advertisements for further intensifying research and technology development in this area. Promotional measures taken by the Government and other associated agencies include publicity and awareness campaigns, amendment of building bye-laws for making the use of solar water heaters mandatory in certain categories of buildings, rebate in property tax/electricity tariff to the users of solar water heaters, etc.

Solar Energy Plants

            The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy promoted deployment of nine Solar Energy Plants during 2007-08 in six States of the Country. Out of this, Maharashtra tops the list with three Plants where as Jammu & Kashmir got two such Plants. Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Orissa and West Bengal each got one power plant during this period. The total capacity sanctioned for these plants is less than 2000 kwp. The capacity under implementation is more than 800 kwp.

            Out of different Plant Projects, all the six States have received one Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant Project. The State of West Bengal has been sanctioned highest capacity of 945.0 kwp followed by Chhattisgarh with  646.8 kWp. Besides these Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra, each have been sanctioned Building Integrated Power Plants (BIPV) with total sanctioned capacity of 18 kWp and one each SPV Power Pack of total sanctioned capacity of 8 kWp.

            The Ministry is promoting deployment of solar photovoltaic power packs/plants in different parts of the country under various programmes including remote village electrification programme by providing partial financial support. These projects are implemented through the state implementing agencies in their respective states.  The total funds released to the state agencies are to the tune of Rs. 40 crore which includes funds for four ongoing projects also. These projects are likely to be completed during 2008-09.

The projects for installation of solar photovoltaic power packs/plants are considered by the Ministry on the basis of proposals submitted by the States, as per provisions of the scheme and availability of funds.

            Non-polluting, requiring little maintenance, free from wear and tear caused by moving parts, solar power is the most promising form of energy for the future.

Total 33 grid interactive solar photovoltaic power plants installed Electricity production to reach 2.55 million units in a year

A total of 33 grid interactive solar photovoltaic power plants have been installed in the country with financial support from the Government. These plants, with aggregate capacity of 2.12 Megawatt, are estimated to generate about 2.55 million units of electricity in a year. In addition, around 14.5 lakh decentralized off-grid solar photovoltaic systems aggregating to about 125 Megawatt capacity have been installed in the country, which is capable of generating about 150 million units in a year. Further, a collector area of about 2.15 million square meter has been installed for solar water heating applications. The amount of energy generation depends on the use pattern of the system and climate of the place. Typically, a solar water heating system with 2 square meter of collector area can generate energy equivalent to up to 1500 units of electricity when the system is used for about 300 days in a year.

The Government has taken several measures to reduce the cost of solar energy systems, which include: (i) research and development to improve their performance and reduce the consumption of materials, (ii) subsidy on selected solar energy systems; (iii) interest subsidy to provide soft loan to users and the manufacturers; (iv) concessional or nil import duty on some of the raw materials, components and products; (v) excise duty exemption; and (vi) 80% accelerated depreciation in the first year etc

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Many incentive have been given to private agencies for research and generation of solar energy. All academic, research institutions and industries, including the private institutions are engaged in research in solar energy. They are eligible to receive grant for undertaking R&D. In addition, expenditure on R&D by the private industries is eligible for deduction from profits under Income Tax Act

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Under grid interactive solar power generation, private companies are eligible to get production based incentive for power fed to the grid from megawatt capacity solar power plants set up on build own and operate basis in the country.

 

Proposal from any project developer with a maximum aggregate capacity of 5 MW, either through a single project or multiple projects of a minimum capacity of 1 MW each, are being considered under the programme. Preference is given to the projects from the States where the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) have announced or are in the process of announcing tariff for solar power.

For projects approved and commissioned by 31st December, 2009, the Ministry will provide generation based incentive up to Rs.12 per kWh for solar photovoltaic power and Rs.10 per kWh for solar thermal power after taking in to account the tariff provided by the SERC or the utility.

 

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