Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

A global player in solar power

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Types of technologies in PV cells

Mains level : Paper 3- Adoption of new technologies in solar power sector

Context

Large-scale solar projects in Tamil Nadu have seen rapid growth in recent years. By embracing advances in solar technologies, India can continue to lead in this sector.

Factors driving growth

  • In the past five years, the cumulative installed capacity witnessed a four-fold increase in Tamil Nadu to 4.4 GW, as of March 2021.
  • High insolation level: Aiding this capacity addition is the State’s reasonably high insolation levels and matching solar potential, estimated at 279GW.
  • Decline in price: The sharp decline in the prices for solar and resulting cost competitiveness is another factor.
  • National target: Additionally, in response to the ambitious national targets and to spur sector specific development, Tamil Nadu released the Solar Policy of 2019, aiming for 9GW of solar installations by 2023.

Type of technology use for solar panel

  • 1) Mono-crystalline Vs multi-crystalline panels: ‘First-generation’ solar cells use mono-crystalline and multi-crystalline silicon wafers.
  • The efficiency of mono-crystalline panels is about 24%, while for multi-crystalline panels it is about 20%.
  • Mono-crystalline cells are dominant today.
  • Although mono-crystalline panels are priced higher than multi-crystalline ones, the difference is diminishing and will soon attain parity.
  • This would result in mono panels being preferred over multi due to their higher efficiency, greater energy yield and lower cost of energy.
  • 2) Bifacial solar cells: Newer technologies incorporating crystalline silicon focus on bifacial solar cells, capable of harvesting energy from both sides of the panel.
  • Bifacials can augment the power output by 10-20%.
  • Within this, the Passive Emitter and Rear Contact technology is predicted to gain popularity. However, it is yet to achieve price parity for large-scale deployment.
  • 3) Thin-film technologies: It is classified as the ‘second generation of solar PVs.
  • In addition to being used in solar farms and rooftops, thin films with their low thickness, light weight and flexibility are also placed on electronic devices and vehicles, power streetlights and traffic signals.
  • Mainstream thin films utilise semiconductor chemistries like Cadmium Telluride with module efficiencies of around 19%.
  • Other technologies include Amorphous Silicon and Copper Indium Gallium Di-Selenide.
  • Nanocrystal and dye-sensitised solar cells are variants of the thin film technology. These are in early stages for large-scale commercial deployment
  • However, the efficiency of thin films is lower than that of crystalline silicon.
  • 4) Perovskite: These are grouped as ‘third generation’ and contain technologies such as perovskite, nanocrystal and dye-sensitised solar cells.
  • Perovskites have seen rapid advances in recent years, achieving cell efficiency of 18%.
  • They have the highest potential to replace silicon and disrupt the solar PV market, due to factors such as ease of manufacture, low production costs and potential for higher efficiencies.
  • 5) Use of Graphene Quantum-dots: Graphene is made of a single layer of carbon atoms bonded together as hexagons.
  • Solar cells made of graphene are of interest due to high theoretical efficiency of 60% and its super capacitating nature.
  •  Quantum-dot PVs use semiconductor nanocrystals exhibiting quantum mechanical properties capable of high efficiency of about 66%.
  • However, both these are in the early stages of research.

Technologies to better integrate solar PVs into the grid

  • These technologies include weather forecasting and power output prediction systems; operation monitoring and control systems; and scheduling and optimisation systems.
  • Additionally, automatic systems have been developed for the smooth resolution of output fluctuations.

Way forward

  • A portion of the budget for renewable energy targets should be set aside exclusively for new technologies.
  • Grants and subsidies can also be provided for their adoption.
  • Efforts must be taken to address gaps in research, development, and manufacturing capabilities in the solar sector through sector-specific investment and incentives.
  • There must also be greater industry-academia collaborations and funding opportunities for startups.
  • A comprehensive sector-specific skilling programme is also required for workers.

Conclusion

All these efforts would help the country become a global player in the solar power sector.

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Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[pib] One Sun One World One Grid

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ISA, OSOWOG

Mains level : Solar Energy

The Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has addressed the Ministerial session of the Green Grids Initiative-One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) Northwest Europe Cooperative Event.

One Sun, One World, One Grid

  • The mega plan of OSOWOG calls for trans-national electricity grid supplying solar power across the globe.
  • It will connect 140 countries through a common grid that will be used to transfer solar power.
  • The idea was first floated by PM Modi in 2018 during the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • The vision behind the OSOWOG mantra is “the Sun never sets” and is a constant at some geographical location, globally, at any given point of time.

With India at the fulcrum, the solar spectrum can easily be divided into two broad zones viz:

  1. Far East: It would include countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia and
  2. Far West: It would cover the Middle East and the Africa Region

Implementation phases of the plan

The plan is divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1: It will connect the Indian grid with the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asian grids to share solar and other renewable energy resources
  • Phase 2: It will connect the first phase nations with the African pool of renewable sources
  • Phase 3: It will be the concluding step of global interconnection

How novel is the idea?

(1) Scale of the program

  • Not limited by national boundaries, it can tackle global challenges linked to energy.
  • It will tackle access for underserved people and communities the world over.
  • It will enable 3 billion people to access clean drinking water (via solar pumps), give 2 billion women access to clean cooking and bring light to the homes of 750 million people.

(2) Pivotal moment in India’s energy history

  • Going back even further, almost a decade ago, the price of solar energy (then INR 15 a unit) had raised question marks about its commercial feasibility.
  • Today OSOWOG envisions dispatching surplus electricity at near-zero cost as India produces the cheapest solar-powered electricity anywhere in the world.

(3) Sustainability

  • OSOWOG directly tackles two key problems that are emerging as energy systems try to deliver both energy sustainability and access to underserved populations.
  • Countries like Singapore or Bangladesh simply may not have enough empty land to generate solar energy.
  • Many nations’ policies also prioritise food security (i.e., devoting land to farming) over solar energy. These countries can still benefit from the solar energy dispatched to them via OSOWOG.

(4) India extending leadership

  • Having international associations is not a new trend for the energy sector which already has a strong geopolitical organisation such as OPEC.
  • Several countries including China have initiated infrastructure projects in other countries, which is seen as a sign of asserting supremacy by several policy experts.
  • While India is a partner nation with most trade associations, with ISA and OSOWOG, it is planning to take a leadership position.

Significance of OSOWOG

  • Successful ambitious project: It is obviously a very grand and ambitious project with a looming success.
  • Pathbreaking idea: It is also clear that a new energy sector paradigm is needed as we are facing a huge inflection point in electricity generation and consumption.
  • Green benefits: Potential benefits include widespread scale up in energy access, abatement in carbon emissions, lower cost and improved livelihoods.
  • Energy alternative: With battery and storage technology becoming cheaper, electricity consumption at source end is a more feasible idea for solar power.

Limitations of OSOWOG

  • Low financial benefits: This may sound a geopolitically a clever strategy. However, it is to be seen if this makes sense, technology-wise and in terms of financial benefits.
  • Cost-sharing challenge: The mechanism of cost-sharing will be challenging, given the varied priorities of participating countries depending on their socio-economic orders.
  • Pace of progress: The OSOWOG will turn out to be an expensive, complex and very slow progress project.
  • Geopolitical issue: Any disruption caused due to any bilateral/multilateral issues can potentially affect critical services in multiple continents and countries.
  • Grid parameters: There is a difference in voltage, frequency and specifications of the grid in most regions. Maintaining grid stability with just renewable generation would be technically difficult.

Way forward

  • While India has taken baby steps with ISA, a major investment drive is still missing. This is planned to be achieved through OSOWOG.
  • India will need a strong coalition of international partners to realise this vision.

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Back2Basics: International Solar Alliance

  • Officially announced during UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015, the ISA is a partnership of solar-resource rich countries.
  • Currently, there are 121 countries that have agreed to be members for ISA.
  • Most of these are countries with large participation from Africa, South-east Asia and Europe.
  • Pakistan and China are not a part of ISA.

 

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Rooftop Solar Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Solar Rooftop Scheme

Mains level : Renewable Energy in India

India has added 521 megawatts (MW) of rooftop solar capacity in the second quarter (Q2) of the calendar year (CY) 2021, a 53% increase than earlier quarter showing good signs of popularity.

What is Solar Rooftop?

  • A solar photovoltaic (PV) system mounted on a rooftop of a building is a mini-power requirement or feed into the grid.
  • The size of the installation varies significantly depending on the availability of space, amount of electricity consumed by the property and the ability or willingness of the owner to invest the capital required.

Why rooftop?

  • Rooftop solar with a storage system is a benefit for both, end consumers as well as discoms (power distribution companies).
  • A one-kilowatt (kW) rooftop system can produce three to five units of electricity a day.
  • The combination increasingly becomes cost-effective for electricity generation compared to the traditional grid supply and diesel generators.
  • In 2021, solar and storage will be cheaper than grid supply for most commercial and industrial (C&I) customers.
  • The increase in penetration of rooftop solar in the distribution grid will have a significant impact on the stability of the grid.

A viable alternative

  • Most housing societies in urban India rely on diesel generators for power backup. However, as power availability improves in the country, diesel generators will become redundant.
  • The operational cost of diesel generators is quite high— R16-18 per unit against Rs 5-6 a unit for solar rooftop systems. So rooftop solar power makes financial sense.Solar rooftop is also a perfect solution for commercial and institutional buildings that operate mostly during the day.
  • Their rooftops can be utilized to generate electricity, and they can, partially or completely, replace diesel generators. This would also help them reduce their electricity bills.

Question of energy storage

  • In order to integrate rooftop solar and electric vehicles, the grid needs to be flexible and smart.
  • Energy storage systems will play a key role in providing this flexibility by acting as a load when there is a surplus generation, as well as generating sources when there is a supply shortage.
  • There are two major methods of integrating battery storage into the electric grid:
  1. Front-of-the-meter (FTM): It is implemented at the utility scale, wherein the battery system is connected to the transmission or distribution network that ensures grid reliability. This happens on a considerably large scale (~MWh scale).
  2. Behind-the-meter (BTM): The other method is implemented at the residential and commercial/industrial level, mainly to provide backup during a power failure or to store excess locally generated energy from solar rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems.

India’s storage capacity

  • About 34 GW / 136 GWh of battery storage is expected to be installed by 2030, according to the Central Electricity Authority of India.
  • This capacity would be used for RE integration, demand-side and peak load management services.

Storage challenges

  • The solar segment offers a huge market opportunity for advanced battery technologies.
  • However, manufacturers have some ground to cover in addressing technical limitations of batteries, such as charging characteristics, thermal performance and requirement of boost current to charge deep cycle batteries.
  • Since solar companies may directly procure batteries from manufacturers and require after-sale services and technical support, battery companies should have wider a presence to address these expectations.

Other key challenges

  • Rooftop solar source doesn’t match the rise in renewable energy in India.
  • While industrial and commercial consumers account for 70% of total installed capacity residential consumers remain a big untapped potential to give the boost
  • Solar rooftops also face several challenges such as little consumer awareness, lack of innovative government policies or attention, bureaucratic hassles, and limited support from discoms.

Way forward

  • Supportive policies and innovative technological approaches are needed for the sector to achieve its potential.
  • Indian policymakers need to plan for rooftop solar plus storage, rather than rooftop solar alone with the grid as storage (net / gross metering).
  • The declining cost of storage solutions, along with that of rooftop solar solutions, is likely to change the future of the Indian power sector.
  • Several countries such as Australia, the United States, Germany, among others have already endorsed solar power with battery storage.
  • Energy storage, therefore, represents a huge economic opportunity for India.
  • The creation of a conducive battery manufacturing ecosystem on a fast track could cement India’s opportunity for radical economic and industrial transformation in a critical and fast-growing global market.

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Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Rajasthan’s rural power solution that other states can emulate

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Climate proofing

Mains level : Paper 3- Decentralised model of solar power generation

Power regulatory body in Rajasthan recently ordered discoms to solarise unelectrified public schools. The move has several benefits and therefore can be emulated by the other states as well. 

Expanded electricity access in rural areas and shortcomings in it

  • Estimates suggest that India has doubled the electrified rural households, from 55% in 2010 to 96% in 2020.
  • However, the measure of access to power supply has been the number of households that have been connected to the electricity grid.
  • This measure discounts large areas of essential and productive human activities such as public schools and primary health centres.
  • And despite greater electrification, power supply is often unreliable in rural areas.

Solar energy: Solution to electrification in remote parts

  • To address the above problems, the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) has ordered the State’s discoms to solarise unelectrified public schools.
  • The RERC has also suggested installation of batteries to ensure storage of power.
  • Apart from enabling education, this ruling would benefit several other crucial aspects of rural life.
  • The RERC order also directed discoms to seek corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for the solarising drive and allows schools ownership of the power systems in a phased manner.
  • This removes the burden of infrastructure development expenses on discoms, while also ensuring clean energy for the schools.
  • The power that is generated could also be counted towards the discoms’ Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).
  • Large-scale projects are generally financed by companies that wish to profit from economies of scale.
  • They are less interested in investing in rural electricity as it is not as lucrative.
  • Large-grid based projects add to the supply of power in urban areas, and therefore, only marginally further greater energy access goals.

The decentralised model of power generation

  • While Rajasthan has land mass with vast, sparsely populated tracts available to install solar parks, bulk infrastructure of this scale is susceptible to extreme weather events.
  • With climate change increasing the possibility of such events, a decentralised model of power generation would prove to be more climate resilient.
  • With battery storage, the susceptibility of grid infrastructure to extreme weather events could be mitigated.
  • This is called climate proofing.
  • As solar installations become inexpensive and with rapidly advancing battery storage technologies, decentralised solar power generation has become a reality.

Conclusion

The ruling by Rajasthan’s power regulator not only helps in increasing access to electricity, achieving targets of renewable energy but also suggests solutions that other States could emulate.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Ramagundam Floating Solar Power Plant

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramagundam Solar Plant

Mains level : Not Much

The country’s biggest floating solar power plant, by generation capacity at Ramagundam in Peddapalli district of Telangana is set to be commissioned by May-June.

Try this PYQ:

With reference to technologies for solar power production, consider the following statements :

  1. ‘Photovoltaics’ is a technology that generates electricity by direct conversion of light into electricity, while ‘Solar Thermal’ is a technology that utilizes the Sun’s rays to generate heat which is further used in electricity generation process.
  2. Photovoltaics generate Alternating Current (AC), while Solar Thermal generates Direct Current (DC).
  3. India has manufacturing base for Solar Thermal technology, but not for Photovoltaics.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None

Ramagundam Solar Plant

  • It would be one of the renewable (solar) energy plants being developed by NTPC with an installed capacity of 447MW in the Southern Region and the entire capacity would be commissioned by March 2023.
  • It will be spread over 450 acres of water surface area in the reservoir.
  • It will be the single location largest floating solar plant in the country as of now; 92 MW floating unit at Kayamkulam gas plant in Kerala and a 25 MW unit at Simhadri power plant.
  • In addition, we are setting up a 230 MW ground-mounted solar power plant in Ettayapuram near Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu

Why floating solar?

  • One of the biggest advantages of floating solar panels is that the installations do not require valuable land space.
  • Many of these installations can take up unused space on bodies of water, such as hydroelectric dam reservoirs, wastewater treatment ponds, or drinking water reservoirs.
  • Additionally, installing solar panels out on open water reduces the need for tree removal and forest clearing, a practice used in the case of some larger solar panel installations.
  • The bodies of water that host floating solar arrays help cool down the solar equipment, which means the panels produce electricity at higher efficiencies in hot climates than they might otherwise.
  • The floating solar panel structure shades the body of water and reduces evaporation from these ponds, reservoirs, and lakes.
  • This is a particularly useful benefit in areas susceptible to drought, as water loss to evaporation can add up over time and contribute to a shortage.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[pib] Agriculture Voltage Technology

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : KUSUM Scheme

Mains level : Not Much

An Agri-voltaic system of 105 KW capacity has been developed by ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur.

Try this PYQ:

With reference to technologies for solar power production, consider the following statements:

  1. ‘Photovoltaics’ is a technology that generates electricity by direct conversion of light into electricity, while ‘Solar Thermal’ is a technology that utilizes the Sun’s rays to generate heat which is further used in electricity generation process.
  2. Photovoltaics generate Alternating Current (AC), while Solar Thermal generates Direct Current (DC).
  3. India has manufacturing base for Solar Thermal technology, but not for Photovoltaics.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None

Agriculture Voltage Technology

  • This technology can increase the income of farmers by the generation of electricity and growing cash crops simultaneously on the same piece of land.
  • Under component-I of the KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha Utthan Mahabhiyan) scheme, there is a provision for installation of the agri-voltaic system in farmers’ fields with a capacity ranging from 500 KW to 2 MW.
  • Moreover, the National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI) has also documented 13 operational agri-voltaic systems in the country managed by different solar PV functionaries and public Institutes.

About KUSUM Scheme

  • The scheme aims to provide extra income to farmers, by giving them an option to sell additional power to the grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands.
  • It was announced in the Union Budget 2018-19.

Component of KUSUM Scheme

The proposed scheme consists of three components:

Component-A

  • Renewable power plants of capacity 500 KW to 2 MW will be set up by individual farmers/ cooperatives/panchayats /farmer producer organisations (FPO) on their barren or cultivable lands.
  • The power generated will be purchased by the DISCOMs at Feed-in tariffs determined by respective SERC.

Component-B

  • Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps.
  • Individual farmers will be supported to install standalone solar pumps of capacity up to 7.5 HP. Solar PV capacity in kW equal to the pump capacity in HP is allowed under the scheme.

Component-C

  • Solarization of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps is included in this component,
  • Individual farmers will be supported to solarise pumps of capacity up to 7.5 HP.
  • Solar PV capacity up to two times of pump capacity in kW is allowed under the scheme.
  • The excess available energy will be sold to DISCOM.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Solar Power Tariffs in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SECI

Mains level : Solar energy and its viability

India’s solar power tariffs have hit a new record low of ₹2 per unit.

Can you relate this?

We have such a lower cost of solar energy. Then why do we rely on coal powered thermal power plants?

Solar energy scenario in India

  • India has an ambitious target to increase its solar power base – by 2022, it wants to quadruple its current solar capacity to 100GW.
  • A number of industrial-scale solar energy plants have come up in the past few years.
  • The government-backed company Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI) has been auctioning solar energy capacity to various private developers using a bidding process that favours the cheapest tariffs.

Low tariff may seem lucrative

  • The record low solar tariffs are mainly due to the “reverse bidding” process, which selects the cheapest bidder.
  • India is now said to be considering a ceiling on solar tariffs – a cap of ₹2.5 ($o.035) and ₹2.68 ($0.038) per unit – for solar power companies that use both domestic and imported equipment.
  • India imports over 90 per cent of solar equipment including cells and modules from overseas, mainly from China and Malaysia.
  • The govt. now is in proves to impose a 25 per cent safeguard duty on solar equipment imports to protect domestic manufacturers, which could further put pressure on the razor margins of solar developers.

Impacts of such low tariff

  • With the steep drop in prices, there are also concerns about the quality of the equipment being deployed, raising questions about future regulation and related costs.
  • The infrastructure of many solar plants in India didn’t meet many environmental stress factors and technical standards, according to a study.
  • India also has a target of increasing its rooftop solar capacity to 40,000 megawatts (MW) by 2022 similar to trends in many European countries.
  • But, here too, prohibitive costs of solar equipment have kept many residential property owners from switching to rooftop solar despite a government subsidy.

Back2Basics: SECI

  • It is a company of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India, established to facilitate the implementation of the National Solar Mission (NSM).
  • It is the only Central Public Sector Undertaking dedicated to the solar energy sector.
  • The company’s mandate has been broadened to cover the entire renewable energy domain and the company will be renamed to Renewable Energy Corporation of India (RECI).
  • It is responsible for the implementation of a number of govt. schemes, major ones being the solar park scheme and grid-connected solar rooftop scheme etc.
  • It has a power-trading licence and is active in this domain through the trading of solar power from projects set up under the schemes being implemented by it.

Reverse bidding Process

In a reverse auction, the buyer puts up a request for a required good or service. Sellers then place bids for the amount they are willing to be paid for the good or service, and at the end of the auction the seller with the lowest amount wins.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Kisan Suryodaya Yojana

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kisan Suryodaya Yojana

Mains level : Not Much

PM has launched the ‘Kisan Suryodaya Yojana’ aimed at providing day-time electricity to farmers in the State of Gujarat for irrigation and farming purposes.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q. The term ‘Domestic Content Requirement’ is sometimes seen in the news with reference to-

(a) Developing solar power production in our country

(b) Granting licences to foreign T.V. channels in our country

(c) Exporting our food products to other countries

(d) Permitting foreign educational institutions to set up their campuses in our country

Kisan Suryodaya Yojana

  • Under the scheme, farmers will be able to avail power supply from 5am to 9pm for irrigation purposes.
  • Around 234 transmission lines are to be installed under the scheme. Each line is to carry the power of 66 KW. They are to be erected to a total length of 3,490 km.
  • Dahod, Patan, Mahisagar, Panchmahal, Chhota Udepur, Kheda, Tapi, Valsad, Anand and Gir-Somnath have been included under the Scheme for 2020-21.
  • The remaining districts will be covered in a phase-wise manner by 2022-23.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

One Sun, One World, One Grid (OSOWOG) Initiative

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : OSOWOG Initiative

Mains level : Global collaboration for Solar Energy

The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has put calls for proposals to the One Sun, One World, and One Grid (OSOWOG) initiative on hold till further notice.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The International Solar Alliance was launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015.
  2. The Alliance includes all the member countries of the United Nations.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? (CSP 2016)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

OSOWOG Initiative

  • Under the project, India envisaged having an interconnected power transmission grid across nations for the supply of clean energy.
  • The vision behind the OSOWOG mantra is ‘The Sun Never Sets’ and is a constant at some geographical location, globally, at any given point of time.
  • With India at the fulcrum, the solar spectrum can easily be divided into two broad zones viz. far East which would include countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia etc. and far West which would cover the Middle East and the Africa Region.

Implementation

  • The OSOWOG would have three phases. In the first phase Phase I, Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia would be interconnected.
  • In the second phase, solar and other renewable energy resources rich regions would be interconnected.
  • In the third phase would vie for global interconnection of the power transmission grid to achieve the One Sun One World One Grid vision.

Benefits of the project

  • Attracting investment: An interconnected grid would help all the participating entities in attracting investments in renewable energy sources as well as utilizing skills, technology and finances.
  • Poverty allevation: Resulting economic benefits would positively impact poverty alleviation and support in mitigating water, sanitation, food and other socio-economic challenges.
  • Reduced project cost: The proposed integration would lead to reduced project costs, higher efficiencies and increased asset utilization for all the participating entities.

Issues with project

  • It is hindered with the issues of intricate geopolitics, unfavourable economics, unwarranted globalisation and undue centralization that act against the concept.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[pib] Rewa Solar Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rewa Solar Plant

Mains level : Solar tariff issues in India

The PM has inaugurated the 750 MW Solar Project set up at Rewa, Madhya Pradesh.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q. The term ‘Domestic Content Requirement’ is sometimes seen in the news with reference to-

(a) Developing solar power production in our country

(b) Granting licences to foreign T.V. channels in our country

(c) Exporting our food products to other countries

(d) Permitting foreign educational institutions to set up their campuses in our country

Rewa Solar Project

  • This project comprises of three solar generating units of 250 MW each located on a 500-hectare plot of land situated inside a Solar Park (total area 1500 hectare).
  • The Solar Park was developed by the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL), a Joint Venture Company of Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (MPUVN), and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), a PSU.
  • The Project was the first solar project in the country to break the grid parity barrier.
  • This project will reduce carbon emission equivalent to approx. 15 lakh ton of CO2 per year.

Tariff management

  • Compared to prevailing solar project tariffs of approx. Rs. 4.50/unit in early 2017, the Rewa project achieved historic results.
  • It has a first-year tariff of Rs. 2.97/unit with a tariff escalation of Rs. 0.05/unit over 15 years and a levelized rate of Rs. 3.30/unit over the term of 25 years.

Significance of the project

  • The project is also the first renewable energy project to supply to an institutional customer outside the State.
  • The Delhi Metro will get 24% of energy from the project with the remaining 76% being supplied to the State DISCOMs of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Project also exemplifies India’s commitment to attaining the target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by the year 2022; including 100 GW of solar installed capacity.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

What India should do to get its energy transition right

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CEA

Mains level : Paper 3- Challenges renewable energy faces and solutions

The article analyses the problems renewable energy faces in India and suggests the pathways to overcome these challenges.

India’s commitments and goals

  • India has committed in the 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce GHG emissions intensity by 33-35% below 2005 levels.
  • It also committed to achieve 40% of installed electric power capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030.
  • At the UN General Assembly in 2019, we announced a target of 450 GW of renewable energy (RE) by 2030.

Let’s look into CEA study

  • The optimal electricity mix study of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), estimated 430 GW non-hydro renewables (280 GW solar + 140 GW wind + 10 GW bio) by 2030.
  • Study put thermal capacity at 266 GW by 2030.
  • So, it puts the percentage of non-fossil fuel (RE + hydro + nuclear) in installed capacity by 2030 at 64%.
  • Which is much higher than India’s Paris commitment.

Coal contradiction

  • The target for coal production at 1.5 billion tonnes, which was set in 2015, has been reinforced recently to be achieved by 2024.
  • Privatisation of coal mining and recent auctions have given a meaningful thrust to this.
  • Looked at the target set for renewable energy, targets for cola production convey contradictory signals.
  • The targeted coal production of 1.5 billion tonnes, even by 2030, would mean thermal generation capacity could double over the current 223 GW.
  • In that case, even with targeted RE capacity, we will not achieve our emissions intensity Paris commitment.
  • Can a global green champion announce doubling its coal production in five years?

Problems with Renewables

1. Policy Issues

  • Solar deployment has seen policy challenges both from Centre and states, these include-
  • Continuous changes in duty structure.
  • Renegotiation of PPAs.
  • Curtailment of solar power.
  • Extremely delayed payments in some states.
  • Policy flip-flops on open access and net metering.
  • Delays by state agencies and regulators.
  • Land possession difficulties.
  • Transmission roadblocks even in solar parks.

2. Solar cell manufacturing constraints

  • Our capacity for cell manufacture is 3 GW, though workable capacity is actually around 2 GW.
  • Domestically manufactured cells are more expensive and less efficient.
  • There is little upgrade in a rapidly changing world of technology.
  •  90% of cells and 80% modules are imported largely from China or Chinese companies elsewhere.
  • Wafer imports are 100% as we don’t manufacture ingots/wafers.
  • For every GW with an average cost of Rs 5,000 crore in 2019, more than half goes to China.

3. Storage constraints

  •  Hydro pump storage is limited in quantity and there will be an issue of costs.
  • The other project is a solar-wind hybrid with batteries installed after a few years.
  • Neither intends to meet peak power demand or even the baseload.
  • Forecasts suggest lowering of battery costs by 50% by 2030.
  • It makes sense to wait before we go for large-scale storage.

Manufacturing domestically

  • 1) At the least plan to make 5 GW of ingot/wafer manufacturing capacity urgently.
  • We may require electricity supply at about Rs 3 per unit, and dedicated power plants.
  • The risk of technology obsolescence would need to be factored in.
  • Policy, fiscal and financial support prescriptions should aim at creating globally competitive industry.
  • 2) We need to develop batteries suitable for extreme Indian weather conditions but globally benchmarked.
  • This demands a mission approach, getting our best people and institutions together, properly funded and tasked to get a battery out in the next three years.
  • 3) We must also simultaneously launch a hydrogen mission—target heavy vehicle mobility through fuel cells.
  • It may become a solution for RE storage, too.

The issue of supply-demand mismatch

  • In the last two decades, we have been overestimating demand and increasing supply.
  • Our demand projections for 2030 are wildly high.
  • PLF in 2018-19 was 60.30, declining to 56.08 in 2019-20 and hovering around 50% with the Covid-19 impact.
  • Even the latest CEA review of ‘optimal’ mix talks of thermal PLF of 59% in 2030!
  • This is inefficient and costly.
  • Thermal PLF must be taken to over 80%.

The suggested pathways

  • 1. Build thermal capacity as per CEA estimates and quickly. None after 2030. Retire inefficient plants. Plan for miner rehabilitation.
  • 2. Accelerate RE after 2030 with storage. Aim for 10 GW solar and 5 GW wind annually.
  • 3. Develop 5-10 GW ingot/wafer manufacturing capacity urgently and diversify import sources even at some extra cost.
  • 4. Develop a battery for Indian conditions in three years; full battery manufacturing in India in five years.
  • 5. Revisit the manner of solar generation. Prioritise decentralised and solar agriculture.
  • 6. Plan for hydrogen economy with pilot projects and dedicated highways for long and heavy haul traffic.
  • 7. Put a strong energy demand management system into place with much stronger energy efficiency and the conservation movement.

Consider the question “Central Electricity Authority finalised the optimal electricity mix study recently setting the targets for the future. Examine the constraints that expansion of solar energy faces and suggest the pathways to overcome the challenges.”

Conclusion

Embracing the RE will help India economically and strategically. It will also help it achieve its targets in its fight against climate change.


Back2Basics: Central Electricity Authority

  • Central Electricity Authority (CEA) is an organization originally constituted under Section 3(1) of the repealed Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, since substituted by Section 70 of the Electricity Act, 2003.
  • It was established as a part-time body in 1951 and made a full-time body in 1975.
  • The functions and duties of CEA are delineated under Section 73 of the Electricity Act, 2003

Plant Load Factor (PLF)

  • Plant Load Factor (PLF) is the ratio of average power generated by the plant to the maximum power that could have been generated for a given time period.

Original Op-ed

https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/what-india-should-do-to-get-its-energy-transition-right/2016648/

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[op-ed snap] From Plate to Plough: In the shade of solar trees

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Solar trees for doubling farmers' income

Context 

Annadata becoming the urjadata – This one policy has the potential to double farmers incomes within a year or two

How

  1. Help farmers produce solar power on their lands
  2. Farmers occupy the largest chunks of land in this country

Benefits

  1. This model will be much more inclusive and can help augment their incomes significantly

Models

  1. Solar Pumps
    1. Replace all pump-sets, especially diesel ones, with solar pumps
    2. Excess power generated through solar panels can be purchased by state governments at a price that gives the farmer a good margin over his cost of producing solar power.
  2. Solar Trees
    1. Encourage farmers to grow “solar trees” on their lands at a height of about 10-12 feet in a manner that enough sunlight keeps coming to plants below
    2. The farmer can keep growing two irrigated crops as he has been doing, but the solar tree generates a lot of excess power that can be purchased by the state government
    3. In one acre you can have 500 solar trees in such a manner that even tractors can move through those and farmers can keep growing their normal two crops. It does not impact their productivity as there is ample sunlight coming from the sides for photosynthesis. 
  3. The power generated under the second variant is multiple times more than under the first variant, and therefore the income augmentation can also be several times more than under the first variant.

What surveys show

  1. A global survey on this shows that it is being practiced in many countries from Japan to China to Germany, and India is ripe for this

Challenges

  1. Mobilizing enough capital to install these solar trees. 
  2. The state should be ready to do the power purchase agreement.

Benefits

  1. The economic calculations suggest that farmers can be given Rs one lakh/acre per annum as net income, with a six per cent increase every year for the next 25 years. This can easily double their income.
  2. He does not have to mobilise capital for solar panels. That is done by other businesses, who also make profit in the process.
  3. As power consumption per hectare in Indian agriculture is still very low, this holds great promise for several poorer states

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

India is now the lowest-cost producer of solar power

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IRENA

Mains level : Solar power cost in India

  • India is now the lowest-cost producer of solar power globally, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018

  • The IRENA report revealed that the total installed costs of utility-scale solar PV in India is as low as $793 per kilowatt (kW) in 2018 which is 27 per cent lower than for projects commissioned in 2017.
  • Canada has the highest cost at $2,427 per kW.
  • IRENA analysed eight major solar PV markets from 2010 to 2018 which include China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.
  • From the analysis, it is concluded that costs have dropped by 80 per cent in India.

Why low-cost solar power in India?

  • Typically, the cost of hardware including inverters account for more than half of the total cost of setting up a solar PV project in India.
  • India has high solar potential that leads to improved asset utilization.
  • India imports majority of hardware for installation from China which is cheaper and helps cut the cost by a huge margin.
  • As the cost of land and labor is cheaper than the rest of the world, it also contributes to low-cost production of solar power in India.

About IRENA

  • The IRENA is an intergovernmental organisation mandated to facilitate cooperation, advance knowledge, and promote the adoption and sustainable use of renewable energy.
  • It is the first international organisation to focus exclusively on renewable energy, addressing needs in both industrialized and developing countries.
  • It was founded in 2009 & its statute entered into force on 8 July 2010 and is headquartered in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.
  • IRENA is an official United Nations observer.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

International Solar Alliance

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance

Mains level: India’s renewable energy commitments and efforts in that direction


News

  • Bolivia has joined the framework agreement establishing International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • India is reaching out to the `Lithium Triangle’ in South America- Argentina, Bolivia and Chile seeking the rare metal Lithium to realize its goal.

About International Solar Alliance

  • The ISA is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization.
  • The alliance is also called International Agency for Solar Policy and Application (IASPA).
  • The ISA is to be headquartered in India.
  • The initiative was launched by PM Modi at the India Africa Summit and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

India’s solar capacity addition has slowed down

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Renewable energy policies in India and issues related to them


News

  • A new report by global analytics firm CRISL, says that India could fall short by about 40 per cent from its stated goal.

India’s lag

  • India, which crossed 25 GW of installed capacity at the end of December 2018, may only be able to add another 44 to 46 GW in the next five years.
  • India may not be able to meet its 2022 commitments of installing 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power.

Why?

  • One of the reasons is an anti-dumping measure imposed in July 2018 called the safeguard tax on imported solar cells, which are widely used in India.
  • This tax was 25 per cent for the first year, 20 per cent for the next six months and 15 per cent for the following six months.
  • This was done as a safeguard measure for the domestic solar module industry, which is unable to sell panels due lower priced imports from China and Malaysia.
  • Coupled with this there was lack of clarity on GST for the solar sector for over a year.

Declining Tariffs

  • The impact of the duty increased the cost of installation by 10-15 per cent, even though module prices fell from $0.30 per watt-peak in March 2018 to $0.24 per watt-peak in December 2018.
  • In 2017 the lowest bid tariff was Rs 2.44 per unit, which could not be reached in 2018.
  • All this meant that capacity addition in 2018 was much below the achievements of 2017. In 2017-18, 9,000 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity was added, which slowed down to less than 7,000 MW in 2018-2019.
  • The report says that installation rate will climb up in the coming years as the safeguard duties are brought down incrementally.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[pib] KUSUM Scheme

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the KUSUM

Mains level: Possible benefits and outcomes of the scheme discussed in the newscard.


News

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved launch of Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) Scheme with the objective of providing financial and water security to farmers.

 KUSUM Scheme

  1. The scheme would provide extra income to farmers, by giving them an option to sell additional power to the grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands.
  2. It was announced in the Union Budget 2018-19.

Component of KUSUM Scheme

The proposed scheme consists of three components:

Component-A

  • Renewable power plants of capacity 500 KW to 2 MW will be setup by individual farmers/ cooperatives/panchayats /farmer producer organisations (FPO) on their barren or cultivable lands.
  • The power generated will be purchased by the DISCOMs at Feed in tariffs determined by respective SERC.

Component-B

  • Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps.
  • Individual farmers will be supported to install standalone solar pumps of capacity up to 7.5 HP. Solar PV capacity in kW equal to the pump capacity in HP is allowed under the scheme.

Component-C

  • Solarization of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps is included in this component,
  • Individual farmers will be supported to solarise pumps of capacity up to 7.5 HP.
  • Solar PV capacity up to two times of pump capacity in kW is allowed under the scheme.
  • The excess available energy will be sold to DISCOM.

Expected outcomes

  1. The Scheme will have substantial environmental impact in terms of savings of CO2 emissions.
  2. All three components of the Scheme combined together are likely to result in saving of about 27 million tonnes of CO2 emission per annum.
  3. Further, Component-B of the Scheme on standalone solar pumps may result in saving of 1.2 billion liters of diesel per annum and associated savings in the foreign exchange due to reduction of import of crude oil.
  4. Besides increasing self-employment the proposal is likely to generate employment opportunity equivalent to 6.31 lakh job years for skilled and unskilled workers.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Argentina becomes 72nd country to sign solar agreement

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance

Mains level: India’s initiatives for transition towards Renewable Energy


News

  • Argentina has become the 72nd country to sign the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • Countries which have recently signed the agreement until now include India, France, Australia, UAE, UK, Japan amongst others.

About ISA

  1. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a group of 121 solar resource-rich countries with headquarters in Gurugram, India.
  2. The agreement was opened for signature during the COP22 at Marrakech on November 15, 2016.
  3. The organisation aims to deploy over 1,000 gigawatt of solar energy and mobilise more than USD 1,000 billion into solar power by 2030.

India-Argentine Relations

  1. With India–Argentina trade just touching $ 3 billion in the last ten years, leaders of both sides agree to increase their cooperation further to improve economic relations.
  2. They are celebrating the 70th year of the establishment of diplomatic ties between.
  3. Both agreed on cooperation in the agriculture sector, trade and investments, defence, Lithium Mining and Space.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

International Solar Alliance plans bank to fund energy access

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance

Mains level: India’s initiatives for transition towards Renewable Energy


News

  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is going to propose a new bank exclusively for financing energy access to billions.

About the ISA Bank

  1. The bank is still at the ideation stage.
  2. ISA has asked the Asian Development Bank to prepare a concept note.
  3. A public-private partnership is being thought of for the proposed, which will work for 1.2 billion people who lack access to energy as well as the 2.4 billion who lack access to clean energy.

Why need such bank?

  1. According to a recent World Bank report, 600 million people would continue to have no access to energy even in 2040.
  2. Those using kerosene and other fuels that are costlier than renewable options.
  3. The bank would need to prioritise these groups and develop a mechanism.
  4. Existing banks do not focus on universal energy access those still deprived are the poorest of the poor.
  5. Hence ISA needs special finance mechanism which can target these people.

For additional reading, please navigate to the page:

ISA plans global solar bank to finance $150 billion of power projects

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