An ex­pen­sive af­fair

Down to Earth - - ANALYSIS - DOWN TO EARTH 5.87 12

back­ground re­search. Its em­pha­sis is on re­source sur­vey, site se­lec­tion, de­vel­op­ing a roadmap based on pi­lot and demon­stra­tion/ scale devel­op­ment/com­mer­cial de­ploy­ment route.”Be­fore an­nounc­ing the feed-in tar­iffs, the pri­or­ity for the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment was de­vel­op­ing sup­port man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try —mir­rors, he­lio­stat, re­ceiver, stor­age and trans­fer medium, re­ceiver tubes, and many other com­po­nents and sub-com­po­nents. Many pri­vate com­pa­nies set up pi­lot projects with sup­port from the gov­ern­ment. China also of­fers cheap loans to its de­vel­op­ers.

And while China has de­cided to first pre­pare the ground­work for the tech­nol­ogy, In­dia be­lieves an­nounc­ing new projects is the log­i­cal way for­ward. This ex­plains why the Cen­tre has not tried to re­vive the ex­is­ing projects and has in­stead an­nounced two new projects. Ku­mar said at the csp Fo­cus In­dia 2014 con­fer­ence in New Delhi that “the ten­der for en­gi­neer­ing, pro­cure­ment and con­struc­tion con­tract for only two pi­lot projects, both to be owned by seci, of 50 MW each... would be out later in the year”. How­ever, the ten­ders for the two projects that are pro­posed to come up in Cha­ranka So­lar Park, Gu­jarat, and Jaisalmer,Ra­jasthan are yet to be an­nounced.

Tarun Kapoor, joint sec­re­tary, Min­istry of New and Re­new­able En­ergy, says, “The lev­elised cost of en­ergy for the pi­lot projects is aimed at 6.25 per unit of power gen­er­ated.” He adds that if the cost per en­ergy be­comes less than 8 per unit, the mar­ket would be flooded with new in­stal­la­tions.

Build­ing projects in air

In­stead of an­nounc­ing ad­di­tional projects, the gov­ern­ment should fo­cus on im­prov­ing data. Delhi non-profit Cen­tre for Science and En­vi­ron­ment says that the Cen­tre for Wind En­ergy Tech­nol­ogy (cwet) should mea­sure the dni for two years for each so­lar ra­di­a­tion re­source as­sess­ment (srra) sta­tions and then com­pare it with five years of satel­lite data to eval­u­ate dni for a par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion. This would al­low the pol­icy-mak­ers to tweak the projects for dif­fer­ent states.

The non-profit also says that till the time csp projects be­come lu­cra­tive, the min­istry should pro­mote so­lar ther­mal ap­pli­ca­tions

Scale

Stor­age

Hy­brid

Uses

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16 Best works when the plant is gen­er­at­ing 100 MW or more power

Eas­ier to store ther­mal heat in it It is con­ve­nient to in­tro­duce so­lar ther­mal tech­nol­ogy in ex­ist­ing fos­sil fuel-based plants Be­sides pro­duc­ing elec­tric­ity, it can be used for heat­ing wa­ter in house­holds and in­dus­tries for in­dus­tries and cre­ate a steady de­mand for ther­mal ap­pli­ca­tions.

Ad­di­tion­ally,the Cen­tre must en­cour­age lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing of re­flec­tive mir­ror, Is por­ta­ble and should be used for rooftop and de­cen­tralised in­stal­la­tions Bat­tery for stor­ing power is the most ex­pen­sive part of the in­stal­la­tions PV sys­tems can gen­er­ate power separately apart from the ex­ist­ing en­ergy sys­tems, but there would not be any cost sav­ings

Can be used only for pro­duc­ing elec­tric­ity struc­tures and ther­mal stor­age with the ob­jec­tive of not just re­duc­ing the in­put cost but trans­lat­ing In­dia into a man­u­fac­tur­ing hub. Play­ers should also move to­wards hy­bridi­s­a­tion at ther­mal plants that are al­ready us­ing coal,gas or biomass.

The Cen­tre should also work to­wards putting the ex­ist­ing projects on track by pe­nal­is­ing de­fault­ers.For re­peated de­fault­ers, the gov­ern­ment should en­cash the bank guar­an­tees. It should also re-auc­tion the projects that have not started.

So­lar ther­mal has tremen­dous po­ten­tial along with many ap­pli­ca­tions. It is more ef­fi­cient to use the heat of the sun di­rectly in­stead of con­vert­ing the heat into elec­tric­ity and then us­ing for heat­ing pur­poses. Es­pe­cially for a coun­try like In­dia which favours cen­tralised so­lu­tions for gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity, csp makes more sense than PV. Un­for­tu­nately, in the rush to em­brace csp,the coun­try missed many steps. In­dia should first fo­cus on so­lar ther­mal ap­pli­ca­tions and make sure that ev­ery house­hold, com­mer­cial estab­lish­ment and in­sti­tu­tion has a so­lar wa­ter heater.This will de­velop the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor.

It should also fo­cus on pop­u­lar­is­ing hy­brid power plants by in­tro­duc­ing csp at ther­mal plants that use fos­sil fuel. Th­ese steps will not only make the tech­nol­ogy popular, but also eco­nom­i­cal, which, say ex­perts, is one of the pri­mary rea­sons for its fail­ure in the coun­try.

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