Published on March 19, 2009
SOLAR DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA Niyant Singh, Department of Electronics and Telecommunication, Bharati Vidyapeeth College of Engineering, Navi Mumbai. Abstract Today, India has the largest decentralized solar energy programme, the second largest biogas and improved stove programmes, and the fifth largest wind power programme in the world. Primarily my aim is to explain people about the emerging solar field in India. The main reason for no quick development is because general public is still unaware about solar products and the benefits of renewable energy. Photovoltaic’s can provide tiny amounts of power for watches, large amounts for the electric grid, and everything in between. Concentrating solar power technologies use reflective materials to concentrate the sun's heat energy, which ultimately drives a generator to produce electricity. Hence in this report I have covered every single aspect of solar power from basic solar cell to uses applications, products, market and future plans. This report gives an overview of the menu of technologies and the scope for solar development in India. It tells the people in brief about the current position of solar energy in India, the potential in various areas and the targets that the country has set for itself, thus preparing the ground for more comprehensive information and a ready reckoner. We realize the purchase of a photovoltaic system can be a challenging task. Here you can find information about how solar power is generated, how solar systems are constructed and function. How does a PV system work? ALL YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SOLAR CELLS How is solar energy generated and how much of it can be tapped? Solar energy is generated by converting sunlight into electricity. The potential of solar power can be estimated from fact that, on an average, each square meter of land is exposed to enough sunlight to produce 1700 kWh (or units) of power every year. That’s enough to power two 100W bulbs for 24 hours a day, throughout the year. Figure 1: Working of a PV cell At the heart of the PV systems are PV cells that do the conversion. A number of PV What are the main technologies used to cells combine together to make a PV harness solar power? module or the so called ‘panels’. Normally Photovoltaic (PV) systems and the bigger the panel, the higher it’s power concentrating solar power (CSP) plants are generating capacity. The panels collect the two most important solar technologies. photons- particles of solar energy- from the In India, the technology most commonly in sun, and convert them into electrical use domestically is the solar water heating power. The power created then flows into system. an inverter to convert it into a form (AC 1
current) that is acceptable to electrical near Seville in Spain produces electricity with 624 large movable mirrors called applications. heliostats(see picture) Figure 2 : the basic solar Cell, a Module or Panel Figure 4: A CSP plant showing mirrors and an Array of solar cells concentrating sun’s energy on thermally insulated steel pipe carrying heated water to turbines How do CSP Plants work? How energy efficient is PV technology? CSP or Solar thermal power plants generate power like conventional power Efficiency is measured by the proportion systems. But instead of using fossil fuels, of sunlight that a PV cell can convert to they use solar energy. Gigantic arrays of electrical energy. The first Solar cell, mirror reflectors concentrate the suns Created in 1883, had an efficiency of 1%. radiation to produce steam, which drives a Today, most commercial PV devices have turbine to generate electricity. efficiencies of 16-20%. Incredibly, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US recently engineered a device that converts a stunning 40.8% of sunlight that hits it into electricity. Figure 3: solar Power tower surrounded by a field of heliostats( huge mirrors) which concentrate sun’s heat at one point Figure 5: A simple solar PV Panel (first of its kind) What are the major applications of PV and CSP systems? PV systems have been used to power small What are the different kinds of PV cells? and medium sized applications, from the calculator, which is powered by a single There are three generations of Photovoltaic cell, to off-grid houses, which are powered cells, based on the materials they are made by an array of cells. Multi-megawatt (MW) of (see pictures). PV plants are also slowly gaining ground. CSP is used for large scale generations of The first generation, Crystalline Silicon, is electricity, It is ideal for Sun-drenched made of one or more small silicon crystals. regions like Parts of Rajasthan and It accounts for about 90% of cell Gujarat- for utility scale generation, production today. To make an effective PV Abengoa’s solar 11 MW solar power tower cell, silicon is quot;dopedquot; to make it n-type 2
and p-type. The challenge here is to carve the thinnest of Wafers, as this translates to smaller quantity of expensive Silicon- and therefore, lower costs. Wafer thickness has dropped from 0.32 micrometres in 2003 to 0.17 micrometres in 2008 (1 micrometre = 1/1000 millimetre). Figure 7: A Nano solar cell Silicon is still the most popular solar-cell material for commercial applications because it is so readily abundant (it is actually the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust-second only to oxygen!). However, to be useful in solar cells, it must be refined to 99.9999% purity. Figure 6: A C-Si (Crystalline silicon) solar panel Thin films are the second generation. Thin Balance of System film modules are made by depositing We may think of a complete PV system as extremely thin layers of photosensitive comprising three subsystems. On one side, materials on to sheets of glass, stainless we have the PV devices (cells, modules, steel and even plastics. arrays, etc.) that convert sunlight into Today, amorphous silicon is commonly direct-current (dc) electricity. On the other used for solar-powered consumer devices side, we have the load, or the application that have low power requirements (e.g., for which the PV electricity is intended. wrist watches and calculators). Between these, we need a third subsystem to enable the PV electricity to be properly Amorphous silicon absorbs solar radiation applied to the load. This third subsystem is 40 times more efficiently than does single- generally referred to as the quot;balance of crystal silicon, so a film only about 1 systemquot; or BOS micron (one one-millionth of a meter) thick can absorb 90% of the usable solar energy. This is one of the most important factors affecting its potential for low cost. These characteristics make amorphous silicon the leading thin-film PV material. The third generation comprises nano and organic PV (OPV) cells. Nano materials possess higher strength and flexibility and have displayed the ability to trap more energy than conventional PV cells. OPV cells mostly contain organic molecules. Some scientists believe OPV cells will be a Figure 8: balance of system cheaper alternative to traditional inorganic cells due to the economics of scale derived This simple illustration shows the elements from large-scale production of organic required to get the power created by the polymers. PV system to the end load (in this example a house). The stand-alone system (a) uses battery storage to provide dependable dc 3
electricity day and night. Even for a home cheaper than existing grid power. The connected to the utility grid (b), PV can current challenge in the race to achieve produce electricity during the day grid parity is to push down manufacturing (converted to ac through the power cost of PV cells to sub-dollar levels, from conditioner). This configuration is $2-2.5 (for crystalline silicon) and $1.35 desirable because extra electricity can be (for thin films) today. sold to the utility during the day, and the utility can in turn provide electricity at night or during poor weather. APPLICATIONS OF SOLAR ENERGY: The BOS typically consists of structures for mounting the PV arrays or modules and Today, solar-generated electricity serves the power-conditioning equipment that people living in the most isolated spots on adjusts and converts the dc electricity to earth as well as in the centre of our biggest the proper form and magnitude required by cities. First used in the space program, PV an alternating-current (AC) load. If systems are now both generating electricity required, the BOS also includes storage to pump water, light up the night, activate devices, such as batteries, for storing PV- switches, charge batteries, supply the generated electricity to be used during electric utility grid, and more. Whether you cloudy days or at night are a homeowner, farmer, planner, Do Solar systems produce Electricity all architect, or just someone who pays electric utility bills, PV may already touch the time? your life in some way. They can if they store the Sun’s energy either in batteries or any other medium. Simple PV systems Otherwise they will generate electricity The same sunny days that dry out plants, only when the sun is shining. make animals thirsty, and heat up buildings Do they work when it’s cloudy or cold? and cars are also good days for generating electricity with photovoltaics. This Yes, on cloudy days their output reduces, electricity can be used to power water in proportion to sunlight they receive, pumps for irrigation and drinking wells, when it’s cold (and sunny), they work well and ventilation fans for air cooling. For and, in fact, generate more power at lower this reason, the simplest PV systems use temperatures. This is because, as with most the dc electricity as soon as it is generated electronic devices, they operate more to run water pumps or fans. efficiently when it’s cooler. How long do PV systems last? Are the PV modules brittle? A PV system that is designed, installed and maintained well should run for atleast 20 years. The basic PV module has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years, unless struck with heavy force, PV modules will not break easily. They are designed to withstand all kinds of extremes, including arctic cold, desert heat, Figure 9: A woman drawing water from PV tropical humidity, high- speed winds, even powered pump hailstones. Even if they break, unless the PV with battery storage cells are damaged, the system will continue to work. Storing electrical energy makes PV systems a reliable source of electric power What is Grid parity? day and night, rain or shine. PV systems with battery storage are being used all over It is the point at which the cost of the world to power lights, sensors, producing solar energy is equal to or 4
recording equipment, switches, appliances, Utility-scale Power telephones, televisions, and even power Large-scale photovoltaic power plants, tools consisting of many PV arrays installed together, can prove useful to utilities. Utilities can build PV plants much more quickly than they can build conventional power plants because the arrays themselves are easy to install and connect together electrically. Unlike conventional power plants, PV plants can be expanded incrementally as demand increases. Figure 10: A Solar Lantern with batteries powered by PV system. PV systems with batteries can be designed to power dc or ac equipment. People who want to run conventional ac equipment add a power conditioning device called an quot;inverterquot; between the batteries and the load Figure 12 : A nuclear to solar converted 2 MW power plant in California serves 660 homes. PV connected to utilities Hybrid Power systems Where utility power is available, a grid- connected PV system can supply some of Hybrid systems combine a number of the energy needed and use the utility in electricity production and storage pieces to place of batteries. meet the energy demand of a given facility or community. In addition to PV, engine generators, wind generators, small hydro plants, and any other source of electrical energy can be added as needed to meet energy demands and fit the local geographical and temporal characteristics. These systems are ideal for remote applications such as communications stations, military installations, and rural villages. Figure 11 : A PV battery charging station for electric vehicles The owner of a grid-connected PV system can not only buy, but can also sell, electricity each month. This is because electricity generated by the PV system can be used on site or fed through a meter into the utility grid. When a home or business requires more electricity than the PV array is generating (for example, in the evening), the need is automatically met by power from the utility grid. Figure 13 : A hybrid (wind and Solar) power system 5
Water Heating and Cooking ADVANTAGES AND DRAW- BACKS OF SOLAR ENERGY: Advantages: Solar energy is a renewable resource. Although we cannot utilize the power of the sun at night or on stormy, cloudy days, etc., we can count on the sun being there the next day, ready to give us more energy and light. As long as we have the sun, we can have solar energy. Solar cells are totally silent. They can extract energy from the sun without Figure 14 : A typical Solar water heating system making a peep. Now imagine the noise that Solar hot water systems use sunlight to the giant machines used to drill for and heat water. Total installed capacity of solar pump oil make! hot water systems growth is 14% per year. Solar energy is non-polluting. Of all China is the world leader in the advantages of solar energy over that of oil, deployment of solar hot water systems this is, perhaps, the most important. The with 80% of the market. Solar water burning of oil releases carbon dioxide and heating is highly efficient (up to 86%) and other greenhouse gases and carcinogens is particularly appropriate for low into the air. temperature (25-65 °C) applications such as domestic hot water, heating swimming Solar cells require very little maintenance pools and space heating. The basic (they have no moving parts that will need components of a solar water heating to be fixed), and they last a long time. systems are solar thermal collectors, a storage tank and a circulation loop. Although solar panels or solar lights, etc., may be expensive to buy at the onset, you Solar cookers and CSP systems use can save money in the long run. After all, sunlight for cooking, drying and you do not have to pay for energy from the pasteurization. Solar cookers offset fuel sun. On the other hand, all of us are aware costs and reduce demand for local of the rising cost of oil. firewood. Solar cookers also improve local air quality by removing a source of smoke. Solar powered lights and other solar The most common designs are box powered products are also very easy to cookers, concentrating cookers and panel install. You do not even need to worry cookers about wires. Disadvantages: Here are the only disadvantages of solar energy: Solar cells/panels, etc. can be expensive (until 2010; now things are changing). Solar power cannot be created at nights still now methods have been researched to store solar generated electricity through various ways. Figure 15 : Women in Rajasthan Using CSP system As you can see the advantages of solar to cook energy create a much longer list that the disadvantages and the disadvantages are 6
things that can be improved as technology stratagems. “The energy challenge is critical, it cannot wait,” says Shyam Saran, improves. The Prime minister’s special envoy on climate change “Solar Power appears to be most promising when compared with other SOLAR POWER, THE BIG renewable sources.” PICTURE: Nearly 76 million Rural Households in The Cost Factor India do not have access to electricity. While efforts to take grid power to them One area that needs a stimulus is the are on, the general belief is that they are manufacturing space. India cannot afford unwilling or unable to pay for modern to miss the solar bus as it did the forms of energy, such as solar power. This electronics one decade ago. The need to is a myth, and villagers from different ramp up and bring in economics of scale is corners of India have proved it to be so. imperative. In solar the fundamental Take the case of Gorhori Maity, a poor challenge is technology and cracking the farmer who ekes out as living from 1.5 barrier of $ per watt manufacturing cost to bighas of land; Maity pays Rs. 100 for enable grid parity. Unlike in other sectors, three light points drawn from a 110 kW it’s not merely a volume up, cost down solar mini-grid in the sundarbans. “It’s game in solar. The key is to pursue difficult but I scrape through,” he says. electron-level strategies, improve Down south, in Karnataka, Narayanpatti, a efficiency and cut-off costs. silk Farmer in Devenhalli village, has been paying monthly bank instalments of Rs. In sophistication, accuracy and efficiency 1,200 for a solar home lighting system we are as good s the west. The question is [SHS] costing Rs. 23,000. In Bhopu Dhani “can they do it cheaper than us”. village, Rajasthan, Hema Ram purchased an SHS without even seeking government Oil’s well, but Solar is better subsidies. “The paperwork is The shift to solar is inevitable because cumbersome,” he says. The village is other energy sources have limitations. supposedly on the future grid-extension Designing and building a nuclear plant can map and official’s invariable fob off take as long as eight years. Oil on the other villagers seeking solar subsidies. “We have hand, may seem attractive today, at $ 35 a waited long enough for grid power,” Says barrel, but it is volatile. It would be foolish Ram. for India to wait until the next round of high oil prices to act. Moreover, oil is Grid power is a carrot that successive finite. OPEC countries, sitting on government have held out as the solution insufficient oil assets, nearing end-life, will to all power problems, urban or rural. have to make huge investments in Where it is not technically or economically production. “It won’t be profitable for feasible to link remote and inaccessible OPEC to sustain low prices for long. Oil villages, the government has been pushing will go to $ 80 a barrel and above within renewable. But the fact is, much more can the year.” predicts shubhranshu Patnaik, be done. Large chunks of the rural Executive Director, Pricewaterhouse hinterland can be provided power through Coopers. decentralised distributed generation systems. Solar power has proved very Again, coal, which fires the majority of successful wherever it has been tried. Be it India’s power plants, is expected to suffer through standalone SHSs or mini grids, it a global supply shortage. By 2011-12, has delivered electricity locally, where it is importing costly coal will be unviable as needed. However, while its feasibility has generation cost will go up three times,” been proven form some time now, it lacks says SP Gon chaudhuri, Managing scale –penetration has been appallingly Director of WBGEDC. Even among low. Around 800,000lanterns have been renewable options such as wind, hydro or delivered in Rural India. The west Bengal biomass-based generation, solar scores, Energy Development agency solar power and policymakers are factoring this into plants in sunderbnas have aggregate 7
capacity of 707 kW. It benefits only 3450 households. Another 35000 households LET THERE BE MORE LIGHT owns SHS. Even then 20 % of population is served. Even in Sunny Rajasthan 83 villagers have 10 kW solar power plants. 10 kW power plant serve 50 house hold on Rays of Hope an average. The one area of worry for the penetration is the cost of the solar system To stimulate demand for solar power, some offered to the villagers. Even with 50 % countries have adopted renewable energy subsidy they are not able to go ahead with programmes employing various financial the solar power plan incentives. On the supply side, the ongoing credit crisis is limiting the availability of JOB CREATOR capital or simply cautioning institutions to lend less. The shadow of recession is Solar energy will create a new class of jobs impending new projects and the political when they are most needed. On the one will to fund incentive programmes. At the hand solar energy will make a long way in same time, we are seeing the emergence of addressing India’s mammoth power more financing schemes. requirements. On the other, it will generate employment by creating jobs. Given California has proposed to issue bonds to Unemployment is rising by the day the finance the installations of solar power latter will prove to be a boon. The ILO systems, with repayment over an extended (International Labours Organization) period as a surcharge on property taxes. In predicts that the number of unemployed Germany renting out the commercial roof people will rise from 190 million in 2007 space for solar power is providing to 210 million by end of 2009.due to the adequate returns to investors. The rising financial meltdown. The so called ‘Bottom demand for PV modules has led to of the pyramid’ is set to widen as another shortages in raw material. This supply 40 million will join those below poverty crunch pushed process up, which acted as line. India will feel the impact. n incentive for the silicon industry to bring additional production into the market. Situations Vacant: Increase in supply will bring down module prices. This will in turn bring solar 2010 2015 2030 generation tariffs down to the level of grid Installation 166,51 486,21 2,770,56 tariffs, leading to more investment flowing 8 9 128,12 9 Production 47,306 524,729 into solar generation projects. 1 Wholesaler 14,192 38,436 157,419 Gleaming Future Research 6,150 16,656 68,215 In India, solar power generation, at only Supply 17,740 48,045 196,773 about 2.5 million units per years, forms a 251,90 117,47 3,717,70 Total negligible part of the country’s renewable 6 7 5 Table 1: Jobs in Solar sector in future years energy portfolio. Earlier this month, the (source: (EPIA) European photovoltaic industry ministry of New and renewable energy association) launched a scheme to provide financial However there is hope. Solar Power has support for the installation of grid interactive solar power in the 11th five year the potential to generate jobs across hierarchies, quickly. That is why President plan (2007- 2012); the limit is 50 MW for Barack Obama wants to invest $150 the country and 5 MW for individuals million on renewable, to meet 30% of plants. The programme is better suited to Americas energy needs by 2030 and would solar PV plant due to the low generation create over 5 million jobs. A conservative limit on individual plants. Solar thermal estimate by the European photovoltaic plants require a larger generation capacity industry association predicts nearly 4 to be visible and would, therefore, not million jobs in PV-sector worldwide by benefit much from such scheme. 2030(See Table) 8
Commercial funding options for energy and cheaper photovoltaic’s to standalone solar generation projects, provide affordable energy to all. especially in developing countries like Also we should learn ‘What it takes to India, have not yet taken off. This is innovate technologies is different from because the cost of generation hasn’t what it takes to industrialize them’ reached grid parity. In conclusion, the question is not whether, A successful solar venture should be but when, the goal of a self –sustaining structured with a narrow, well-defined solar market in developing country like target market so that the investment India will be achieved. offering can be adequately addressing a relatively homogenous set of needs. Economics of scale play a big role in References: making solar project sustainable. Without a sizeable service population, a private solar company cannot run into collection issues and maintaining systems. ‘Shadows and Light’ and ‘What, • Where, How…..’ by Naren A supportive legal environment is critical. Karunakaran in Business Outlook these includes factors like incentives for magazine -Feb 09. solar energy or absence of competing subsidised electricity, long term ‘Island in the sun’ and ‘Power to • government electrification plan and legal the people’ by Naren Karunakaran basis for enforcing loan collections. in Business Outlook magazine- Feb 09. Commercial grid tied projects are becoming increasingly important in ‘Let there be more light’ by • countries where the local solar PV market Soumya Banerjee and Priyanka is beginning to build scale or in countries Sood in Business Outlook like India, China and Algeria, where magazine-Feb 09. incentives or subsidy programs have been announced. This would help long term www.suryaprakash.com/tech.htm • investors in preparing the ground for http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/topic anticipated future growth. • /solar.html CONCLUSION Even though energy from renewable energy sources is growing rapidly, the overall share is only expected to increase marginally over the coming decades as the demand for energy also grows rapidly, particularly in many developing countries. In India, the scientific focus is deliberately moving towards transforming coal into clean energy as well as harnessing hydropower. The recent surge in nuclear energy is also diverting focus from the solar energy enhancement. In all probability, the Indian government will support off-grid solar energy production through a decentralized manner. In spite of this, India needs to focus research on solar 9
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