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Solar Energy

solar energy

India is a tropical country and therefore receives abundant solar energy. Solar energy is a very important resource but is still largely underutilized in India. It currently accounts for only about 0.8% of the total power generation capacity in India. On an average, the country has 300 sunny days a year and receives an annual radiation of 1,600-2,200kWh/m2 translating into an annual estimated potential of 6 billion GWh. To tap this vast potential of solar energy, the MNRE has launched an initiative, Solar Radiation Resource Assessment (SRRA), which aims to develop a solar atlas by assessing and quantifying the availability of solar radiation across the country. Moreover, in 2009 the Govt. of India had launched the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM),one of the eight key missions of the NAPCC, to install 20 GW of solar power by 2022. JNNSM is one the most significant catalyst and drivers of the development of this sector in India. The Mission, in its three phases, aims to achieve grid cost parity for solar energy and to install targeted grid connected solar power within stipulated time. The Government has also set up Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) to assist MNRE in achieving the objectives of Solar Mission through adopting appropriate mechanisms/initiatives, developing programmes and projects, managing special projects, and overseeing and coordinating with the all relevant stakeholder agencies (E&Y,2013).

solar concentrator

Although there has been substantial technical and economic advancement in this sector, the commercial utilization of solar energy is still in its initial stages. The cumulative installed capacity of grid interactive Solar PV is 2,647 MW and cumulative installed capacity (MW) of offgrid Solar PV Systems is 174 MW, as of 31st May 2014 (MNRE). The sharp reduction in the high capital costs earlier associated with this technology will act as a major booster in increasing its commercial viability and usage.

Presently, solar energy is being harnessed through two different routes Solar Thermal (ST) and Solar Photovoltaic (SPV).

1. SPV technology converts sunlight into electricity through photovoltaic systems. In India, we receive solar radiation in the range of 4 to 7 KWh/m2/day. Such radiation is good enough to generate electricity to fulfill our entire electricity requirement. Importantly, this can be generated in any area locally, where there is need, by installing the solar PV modules. Though grid interactive and off grid PV systems in MW scale have been installed in the country, there are still scope in the decentralized generation where the people deprived of energy can be served. In India there exists a huge growth potential in a number of SPV applications areas including grid interactive, stand alone power plants, street lights pumps, home lighting system and lanterns.

2. In ST technology, the solar energy is converted into heat energy. The sunlight is captured by different types of solar collectors which provide heat. This heat is then used for various applications such as water heating for domestic applications (temperature ranges 500C -600C). For applications which require higher temperatures (more than 1000C), special type of solar collectors, called concentrators are used. With the help of concentrators, higher temperatures (from few hundred to 10000C) are obtained. The important applications of concentrator solar thermal energy are electricity generation, steam generation which is used in industry for many process applications. The solar thermal devices are being utilized for water heating, space heating, cooking, drying, water desalination, industrial process heat, refrigeration systems etc.


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