Practical solution for urban and rural India
Solar energy is a vital form of renewable energy that can
provide practical solutions in mitigating many of the energy related risks to our economy, says K. Subramanya, CEO, Tata BP Solar India Ltd.
India is presently experiencing a surge in its economy. This
growth is unprecedented and looks sustainable for a long period. The GDP is
growing at a rate of 7 per cent to 8 per cent, making it one of the fastest
growing economies in the world and competing very closely with China's growth.
The manufacturing and services sectors are leading this growth, making India the
biggest consumption economy only behind USA.
The population of India continues to grow thereby increasing the gap between
energy supply and demand. In order to meet the growing energy demand, India will
have to double its capacity of energy generation that calls for an investment of
more than Rs 13,000 billion.
Fossil fuels can be an answer to meet a majority of these investments. However,
oil resources in the country are limited. As a result, 70 per cent of the oil
requirements are being met through imports at a staggering cost that has
exceeded in recent days $120 per barrel. While we are on the verge of being
dubbed as imported fuel economy, we are also exposing our economy to greater
risks in energy security. We also can't shy away from the dangers of environment
pollution due to enhanced fossil fuel usage.
Solar energy is a vital form of renewable energy that can provide practical
solutions in mitigating many of the energy related risks to our economy.
Countries such as Germany, Japan, USA, Spain, Italy, Korea, China and Thailand
have all articulated policies and investment strategies that would lead to
consistent increase in solar energy generation over the next decade. Many of the
developed countries already have favourable laws and policies in place that has
helped PV technology grow at an annual rate of over 30 per cent.
India has abundant solar resource with more than 300 days of sunshine every
year. This is equal to over 5,000 trillion kWh/year. Though theoretical, India's
entire energy requirements can be met just out of solar energy. Solar
photovoltaic (PV) technology can be an answer to address many an energy related
risk that India is currently subjected to.
The other notable advantages of PV technology are:
u Using PV technology,
electricity can be generated at the point of consumption thereby doing away with
infrastructure for transmission and distribution.
u PV technology can be
used to design applications that could not only power a lantern for home use but
also higher-end energy solutions that could electrify entire communities.
u The urban customer is
increasingly seeking the power of convenience in all walks of life. Electronic
and communication gadgets have defined a new lifestyle. However, when it comes
to energy requirements, the urban customer feels severely hampered and
constrained due to lack of quality energy. PV technology through urban
applications such as power packs can certainly change this scenario and hence
become a lifestyle product in not so distant future.
u PV technology provides
clean, green energy that can effectively address the concerns of our
environment. Solar energy is a silver lining that helps reduce the greenhouse
effect thereby helping restore ecological balance in our ecosystem.
u The cost of PV
technology is coming down gradually thereby making it cost-effective and viable.
u Policies are being
framed for increased use of solar energy in our country. Building laws, tax
rebates, subsidised financing options are operational in some parts of the
country and have positively impacted the growth of PV. (However, much more needs
to be done.)
The Indian PV industry received a boost with the announcement of the
semiconductor policy of the Government of India. A special incentive package to
attract investment for setting up semiconductor fabrication is expected to
change the face of PV industry. The government has provided both pre-operative
and post-operative benefits to the industry, which is important for the
development of ecosystem. The Central government or any of its agencies shall
provide incentive of 20 per cent of the capital expenditure during the first 10
years for SEZ units and 25 per cent for non-SEZ units (subject to investments
exceeding threshold NPV). The subsidy may be claimed in the form of capital
subsidy or equity participation.
The incentives should encourage more action in the PV industry that could result
in increased use of solar technology to meet our energy demand. It is also
equally important to understand the applications with PV technology and Tata BP
Solar has been at the forefront of driving PV applications in India for almost
two decades and helping customers realise the power of the sun.
Grid-connect solar systems are at the centre of many a discussion today ever
since the government recently announced a support policy for generating power
through such systems and feeding them back into the grid. A grid-connect system
is a solar power plant that is connected to the grid that would help the user to
use electricity both from the grid and solar power plant.
Tata BP Solar has been at the forefront of installing and commissioning
grid-connect systems and developed expertise with close to two decades of
experience. The 100 KWp grid-connect system which the company has executed for
Vikas Soudha, Bangalore (replica of Vidhana Soudha) is one such prestigious
project which helps in supplementing grid electricity and meeting peak load
requirements. The company has also executed a 200 KWp grid-connect system for
PEDA (Punjab Energy Development Authority) in Khat Kar Kalan village that meets
the power requirement of rural communities. The company has also commissioned
grid-connect systems for L&T, Tata Power, Tata Housing, CII and other corporates.
As the concept of green buildings is gaining awareness and as corporates are
being subjected to environmental audits, the opportunities in Building
Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) can change the face of architecture. The solar
PV modules are aesthetically integrated into a building/structure thereby not
consuming any additional roof space. Such a system not only generates solar
power, but also allows natural light into the building thereby further reducing
electricity demand. It also provides excellent heat insulation that helps in
reducing the air conditioning loads as well.
Tata BP Solar has executed some of the largest BIPV projects in the country such
as 3*30KW KWp project at Samudra Institute of Maritime Studies, Lonavala, that
helps it meet the internal power requirements. The CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre building in Hyderabad which is rated as one of the greenest buildings in the world sports a BIPV system of 20KWp that helps in meeting 5 per cent of building electricity demand.
The photovoltaic systems have also been powering many a specialised applications
successfully. Tata BP Solar has installed and commissioned 34.7 KWp solar power
plants for the Indian Institute of Astrophysics at Hanle. These power plants
power the telescope located at an altitude of 4500m in a region having no
infrastructure for grid power.
The company also has a large number of dedicated solar power systems providing
reliable energy at remote locations for banks, telecom, railways and defence.
Tata BP Solar has been in revolutionising the energy scenario in rural India.
Remote villages in Ladakh, dispersed clusters in forests of Chhattisgarh and
villages in Orissa, West Bengal, Rajasthan have benefited from the clean, green,
easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain solar power plants that are providing vital
access to energy.
Solar water pumps are helping thousands of farmers reduce dependence on rain and
also helping in increasing the number of crops. This has directly increased the
wealth of farmers who were once suffering from the erratic power supply. PV
systems have helped farmers do away diesel pumps that need recurring costs and
Solar lanterns, home lighting systems and street lights are extending the
opportunities for education in rural India.
All these applications have created more opportunities and jobs, thereby
strengthening the economy and ushering in a better quality of life for millions.
The future is bright and shining for solar photovoltaic technology.
(The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
[May 19-25, 2008]