May 16, 2017

RFID Tags in Solar Panels / Solar Plants

Various policy measures have been put in place, based on recommendations of experts. These relate to power evacuation, subsidies and eligibility of solar panels to be used for setting up plants, even players who can and who cannot put solar plants based on recommendations / user experiences. All of this is good, and sign of a maturing solar economy that India is moving towards. Rightly so, since now India is poised to be the third largest solar market in the world, and has pipped Japan and the US in the ranking order. We draw attention to one such policy related to solar panels being manufactured in India, and use of RFID tags. This is one step that the department has taken to ensure that the minimum technical standards are reached, and maintained by quality manufacturers. This is also become a requirement for any government project, or a project that envisages some form of subsidy that the government provides on installing solar panels ( such as solar rooftop plants on institutions, NGOs, or schools and colleges).
The MNRE mandates that

Mar 14, 2017

Solar : Solution for electrifying the Unelectrified

Energy access in any developing country is an important goal. For any government, delivering on the promise of energy access for all is a significant promise. If they deliver well on this promise, chances are bright that the voter mind set turns favourable as it is one of the most visible signs of improvement in standard of living for people living in the dark.
In India, there is an ambitious program that has been started by the current Government to ensure electricity reaches all in a time bound manner. All efforts are being made, and appear sincere by all counts, to ensure that the last remaining village also gets connected either to the grid. The other solution that exists is providing renewable power via solar. Few experiments have been carried out that have a mix of solar and wind. Perhaps finding an overlap of unelectrified regions, and

Feb 13, 2017

Solar on Rooftops : The 'why' answered...

Typically, most householders / office owners are looking to install solar on the rooftops for the following reasons

Lower Monthly Electricity Bills

India is a hot country and most homes and offices run air conditioning for 5-6 months in an year on a regular basis. Some of the upper middle class owners would run on climate control for atleast 8-9 months. These appliances are the biggest consumers of energy. With most electric utilities charging between Rs. 8-10 for electricity costs, monthly bills spiral upwards in the hot summer months. Solar Power costs are much lower in the vicinity of

Feb 7, 2017

Solar Power makes sense, only if you scale

A Game of Scale

It is a game that has played out in the Western world already, Solar Power business is more and more getting tilted towards the larger players. Smaller entities are getting pushed to being Tier 1 or Tier 2 sub contractors. Solar power, which once fostered small enterprises, is transforming into a scale-based opportunity. As tariffs hit record lows crimping returns, smaller firms are either scaling down or selling out. The main components in any solar plant installation are the solar modules. The international market has plenty to offer, at low rates. The Chinese manufacturers of solar cells and modules are willing to offer this at very competitive prices, as compared to local players, for chosen players who are able to provide them with scale. Indian players have their production capacity full at times and really cant lower and compete with this level of pricing.
The top players have moved quickly, and data shows that the top 10 solar project developers have raked in new business quickly in the FY 2015-16, to jump from a 35% share to over 60% share in new business / new plants set up.

Funding holds the key 

The solar industry is no longer a technology play. It never was. Building and installing solar plants is more project management. But the key really is

Jan 25, 2017

Solar Energy : Financing for projects

there has been a spurt in growth of project funding based capital, for solar projects in India. All this is helped by the fact that the government has already announced plans for an increased target of 175 GW by 2022 of installations in the country. 

This translates into about Rs. 875,000 Cr ( around 145 bln USD)  of investment into the sector at the current pricing for setting up utility scale projects. Over time, this pricing may come down and hence the need for capital required may reduce a bit. Nonetheless, the capital requirement is huge and requires different capital pools to come together. 

Below is a list of some funds and organisations that have become active to help India move towards a cleaner future. This list, by its very nature is an evolving list and updates shall continue to be published. Do note that some of these are announcements and the fund may / may not finally materialize in its objectives.

Jan 21, 2016

Solar Air Conditioning

Solar Air Conditioning

The primary source of energy for a Solar Air Conditioner or Solar AC is solar power. India being a hot and humid country, can benefit a lot from use of solar Air Conditioners and there can be tremendous amount of energy savings. The main advantage being that enough insolation exists, to power solar AC energy needs. The overlap lies that the Indoor Air-Conditioning is required, and peaks when solar power and irradiation is available in plenty, outside homes and offices. 
There are mainly two methods and principles used for Solar Air Conditioning - 
a) Solar Thermal & 
b) PV Solar Air Conditioning
While solar water heating is a proven concept, and feasibility exists, solar air conditioning uses the same principle in reverse. It is expected that for smaller installations ( such as residential) more and more Solar PV AirConditioning is likely to be used. This is in the backdrop of, decreasing Solar PV prices. However, for larger customers, ( a.k.a industrial customers ) Solar Air Conditioners are gaining traction in China where there are a number of suppliers and the costs are much cheaper. In fact, most of the China based solar AC manufacturers have started to push to India, with their products, and see a large market in India.

While Solar Thermal Technology is mainly used in industrial air conditioning, with decreasing prices of solar panels PV Solar Air Conditioners should become the more common technology. 

Solar Air Conditioner Types

1) Passive Solar Air Conditioning
In this type of cooling the design of buildings is done in such a way that it  slows the rate of heat into a building in the summer, and improving the removal of unwanted heat. It involves a good understanding of the mechanisms of heat transfer. Passive solar cooling is much easier to achieve in new construction than by adapting existing buildings.
2) Solar closed-loop absorption and adsorption Air Conditioning
Active solar cooling uses Solar Thermal Collectors to provide thermal energy to drive thermally driven chillers. Solar thermal Energy heats the heat transfer fluid within the system. The generated heat is then used in conjunction with absorption chillers to provide a renewable source of industrial cooling.
3) Photovoltaic (PV) Air Conditioning
This is mainly used in residential air conditioning.The power generated from the solar panels is used to drive conventional compressor-based or adsorption/absorption-based systems. PV cooling cost effectiveness depends largely on the cooling equipment and  the efficiencies in electrical cooling methods is quite poor.
What is Direct Current Solar Air Conditioners
Household Appliances mostly run on Alternating Current (AC) while Solar Power generated is Direct Current(DC). The conversion from DC to AC is done through a Solar Inverter which leads to increased cost and loss in efficiency of about 15%. In Direct Current Solar Air Conditioners that AC is directly powered by solar energy without conversion to AC leading to power savings.

Solar Air Conditioner Manufacturers/Suppliers/Installers in India

In India, manufacturers do not supply air conditioners based on solar energy. Due to the high cost and almost complete rewiring (in some cases) needed for the home, solar air conditioners are absent. Some industrial units are going for this solar energy based solution to reduce the electricity cost which is ballooning. Also some LEED buildings and green friendly organizations are implementing solar air conditioners. There is a growing trend of industrial units, who have started to adopt solar rooftop solutions, as a way of reducing energy costs. The energy costs are spiralling upwards for common fossil fuel based electricity. Air Conditioning consumes a lot of this energy and hence, it is natural for a shift to happen to solar based energy, in a bid to reduce energy costs. For customers, who are looking to buy such ACs in India, there are only a couple of air conditioners suppliers that one could find in India currently. 
1) Onyx – is India’s largest solar air-conditioning company making hybrid solar air conditioners for industrial clients. The company’s product are not pure solar air conditioners but use the existing solar air conditioning technology to make it more efficient using solar collectors. The same principle of using compression techniques, evaporation and cooling using air conditioning gases are use.
2) Urja Unlimited – This organisation is also supplying and importing solar air conditioner for residential and industrial units besides a host of other solar products like solar modules. It is coming up a player in the IoT space, and combining solar with IoT technology.
4) Arka Technologies – The company is also like the others providing a host of solar solutions which includes a Solar Air Conditioning System (SACS).

And now the bottom line...Costs of Solar Air Conditioner

The cost of a Solar Air Conditioner is still quite high. For Example to install a 1000 Watt Solar Air Conditioner you would need at least 2 kw solar panels system which would imply about Rs. 1.1 lakhs of investment without considering the cost of a battery. This system can replicate the functioning of a 1.5 ton AC for a room. If you included the price of storage, charge controller and accompanying electronics, then the costs would be higher by about Rs. 50-60,000. While the running costs of a system would be minimal, note the high initial investment on a solar air conditioner implies that it would cost you almost 7 times the price of a normal AC unit. For larger industrial units, this cost may be even higher.