Solar energy is genesis for all forms of energy. This energy can be made use of in two ways the Thermal routei.e. using heat for drying, heating, cooking or generation of electricity or through the Photovoltaic route which converts solar energy in to electricity that can be used for a myriad purposes such as lighting, pumping and generation of electricity. With its pollution free nature, virtually inexhaustible supply and global distribution- solar energy is very attractive energy resource.
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Jaipur is a city in the desert state of Rajasthan and is abundant with sunlight. Mr Toshniwal*, a city resident, is excited about adopting rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) for his house and potentially save on his electricity bills. He even persuaded other members from his housing society to consider installing solar PVs for their homes. But as soon as they approached the bank for a loan, they faced disappointment and returned empty handed. The cost of solar PV installation was only a few lakhs but the bank required them to pledge their homes, which worth in crores, against the loan. Despite India’s capacity to potentially harness rooftop solar and mandate its banks to promote the same, several problems remain.
India’s ambitious 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy target includes 100 GW of solar by 2022. Of this, 40 GW is to come from rooftop installations around the country. While commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers have been making significant strides towards achieving this target by making up for 1,632 megawatt (MW), the remaining consumer categories continue to face challenges. This means that in the next four years the sector needs to add roughly 37.5 GW of rooftop solar PV. This is a tall target, even if the overall sector has grown at a compound rate of 117 per cent over 2013-17, (BNEF, 2018). To meet such massive targets, India must mobilise and grow the residential rooftop solar PV segment, so that we can achieve the targets.
Over the past few years, the falling prices of solar and availability of finance for rooftop solar have been key to the increased installation among the C&I sector. However, this has not had the same effect on the residential customers in India. To understand what will spur the growth of residential rooftop solar installations we must revisit the policies and programmes with the lens of residential consumers. Despite the significant number of initiatives from the national and state governments, residential consumers are by and large, still not excited about large scale adoption of solar on their rooftop PV.
We surveyed residential consumers across five cities to understand their concerns with the adoption of rooftop solar PV, and identified three key issues that need to be addressed. First, is a need for clear, credible and objective information about rooftop solar PV that can be accessed by consumers. Basic information like how much rooftop area is required to generate a unit of electricity, who will provide after sales service, what is covered by warranty and what isn’t, how does one obtain net or gross metering benefits, how much time it takes to install a rooftop solar PV system and so on. Presently, there is no single credible source of such information that is independent or reliable for consumers.
Second, banks that offer finance for installation of rooftop solar PV systems often demand disproportionate collateral security, perhaps because of the absence of resale value of the systems. Some ask consumers for the title deeds of their homes, which is several times the cost of the solar PV system, as Mr Toshniwal’s neighbours discovered. Consumers have also complained about the tough terms and conditions — which work as deterrents for the consumers, who are looking for some finance to help reduce their capital costs for installation. Third, despite best efforts at single window approvals and so on, multiple permissions and approvals are needed to obtain net or gross metering benefits. Consumers who have installed solar PV systems on their roofs complain of having to make multiple visits for getting the necessary approvals and arranging for inspections to certify completion of work – which is both tedious and time consuming. Some in-depth case studies, which we looked at revealed that this tedious process is the number one deterrent in adoption.
India’s renewable energy targets are ambitious, but achievable if we can identify barriers and help overcome them through consumer-centric approach. Our study confirms that while policies and regulations have been developed for faster adoption of solar, they do not adequately consider issues faced by consumers or take into account the consumer experience. Consequently, the results among residential consumers have remained sub-optimal.
For residential rooftop solar to become a norm, India most importantly needs to ensure clarity of information, awareness, and ease of accessing finance for the installation. Without a consumer centric plan, rooftop solar will face challenges to see the light of the day.
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Solar Energy can be utilized for varied applications. So the answer to “Why Solar” question can be sought from two different perspectives: utilizing solar energy for grid-interactive and off-grid (including captive) power generation.
1. Solar for grid connected electricity:
Grid interactive solar energy is derived from solar photovoltaic cells and Plants on a large scale. The grid connection is chosen due to following reasons:
- Solar Energy is available throughout the day which is the peak load demand time
- Solar energy conversion equipments have longer life and need lesser maintenance and hence provide higher energy infrastructure security
- Low running costs & grid tie-up capital returns (Net Metering)
- Unlike conventional thermal power generation from coal, they do not cause pollution and generate clean power
- Abundance of free solar energy throughout all parts of world (although gradually decreasing from equatorial, tropical, sub-tropical and polar regions). Can be utilized almost everywhere.
2. Solar for off-grid solutions:
While, the areas with easier grid access are utilizing grid connectivity, the places where utility power is scant or too expensive to bring, have no choice but to opt for their own generation. They generate power from a diverse range of small local generators using both fossil fuels (diesel, gas) and locally available renewable energy technologies (solar PV, wind, small hydro, biomass, etc.) with or without its own storage (batteries). This is known as off-grid electricity. Remote power systems are installed for the following reasons:
- Desire to use renewable – environmentally safe, pollution free
- Combining various generating options available- hybrid power generation
- Desire for independence from the unreliable, fault prone and interrupted grid connection
- Available storage and back-up options
- No overhead wires- no transmission loss
- Varied applications and products: Lighting, Communication Systems, Cooking, Heating, Pumping, Small scale industry utilization etc.
Captive power generation is done mainly considering the replacement of diesel with solar. Comparison of diesel vs captive power generation is available here. Our tailormade report on Captive Solar Power Generation can be downloaded here.
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Solar photovoltaic (SPV) cells convert solar radiation (sunlight) into electricity. A solar cell is a semi-conducting device made of silicon and/or other materials, which, when exposed to sunlight, generates electricity. Solar cells are connected in series and parallel combinations to form modules that provide the required power.
- Crystalline Silicon solar cells (C-Si): Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline
- Thin-film solar cells: Amorphous Silicon Solar cells (A-Si), CIGS, CdTe
PV modules are manufactured by assembling the solar cells after stringing, tabbing and providing other interconnections.
Solar Thermal Power systems, also known as Concentrating Solar Power systems, use concentrated solar radiation as a high temperature energy source to produce electricity using thermal route. High temperature solar energy collectors are basically of three types:
- Parabolic trough system: at the receiver can reach 400° C and produce steam for generating electricity.
- Power tower system: The reflected rays of the sun are always aimed at the receiver, where temperatures well above 1000° C can be reached.
- Parabolic dish systems: Parabolic dish systems can reach 1000° C at the receiver, and achieve the highest efficiencies for converting solar energy to electricity.
India’s Unique Proposition
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- Economic Value:The generation of solar electricity coincides with the normal peak demand during daylight hours in most places, thus mitigating peak energy costs, brings total energy bills down, and obviates the need to build as much additional generation and transmission capacity as would be the case without PV.
- Geographical Location: India being a tropical country receives adequate solar radiation for 300 days, amounting to 3,000 hours of sunshine equivalent to over 5,000 trillion kWh. Almost all the regions receive 4-7 kWh of solar radiation per sq mtrs with about 2,300–3,200 sunshine hours/year, depending upon the location. Potential areas for setting up solar power plant can be analyzed using Solar irradiation map of India. Our Statewise analysis of Solar resource, Business Opportunities and Latest trends in the states are discussed:Andhra PradeshBihar Gujarat Haryana KarnatakaKeralaMadhya PradeshMaharashtraOrissaPunjabRajasthanUttar PradeshWest Bengal
- Power Shortage:Electricity losses in India during transmission and distribution have been extremely high over the years and this reached a worst proportion of about 24.7% during 2010-11. India is in a pressing need to tide over a peak power shortfall of 13% by reducing losses due to theft. Theft of electricity, common in most parts of urban India, amounts to 1.5% of India’s GDP. Due to shortage of electricity, power cuts are common throughout India and this has adversely affected the country’s economic growth.
|SOURCE||CUMULATIVE CAPACITY (numbers)|
|Rural / Semi Urban Biogas Plants||42,77,000|
|SPV Street Lighting System||1,21,634|
|SPV Home Lighting System||6,19,428|
Current Projects (includes both- installed and under installation projects)
|S.No||State||PhotovoltaicCapacity (MW)||Solar ThermalCapacity (MW)|