Solar energy – 2: almost twenty years later

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pv tech logoIt is reported that India’s energy minister, Piyush Goyal, said that the current National Solar Mission target of 20GW by 2022 would be increased to 100GW – more on the PV Tech website.

Akhil Gupta, Akhil Handa & Mayank Rawat offer a few suggestions ‘to execute this grand vision’ in India’s Economic Times.

economic times india logo

One is to remove the perception that solar energy is expensive. At all times, solar is substituting for imported energy, which is far more expensive.

When a solar plant is commissioned, it will displace diesel for 70-80% of its
generation and imported coal for the rest.

India gets 70% more solar radiation than European countries. This means the same solar panels yield 70% more power in India. In addition, peak demand in India coincides for 70-80% of the 70-80% of the time during which solar energy is harnessed. This peak demand is mostly met by diesel, which costs almost double that of solar electricity, currently at Rs 6-7 per kWh.

sheep grazing solar bavaria                                                                      In Bavaria

Fortunately, solar power requires far fewer clearances than for coal and doesn’t require contiguous land. Fears about alienation of fertile land now appear to be minimal, crops are grown and animals appear to graze quite happily near solar panels and wind turbines.

cultivation india near wind turbines                                                  In Dhule Maharashtra

However if man-made security risks arise – disruption of the power supply – they could lead to protection of and limited access to these sites.

As Pereira noted, the sun delivers enough energy to the Earth in one year to meet mankind’s current consumption some 10,000 times over. The problem has always been how to trap and make use of this solar power . . . we miss the thoughtful response he would have made to these reports of progress.

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