Solar Power in India: The ray of light in a dark tunnel
We already know the tremendous benefit of Solar power in India in terms of economy as well as the environment. This article will emphasize on what Solar Power has to offer to India – a developing agriculture-based country.
The Indian government is promoting solar energy. It announced an allocation of ₹1,000 crores (US$140 million) for the National Solar Mission and a clean-energy fund for the 2010-11 fiscal year, an increase of ₹380 crores (US$53 million) from the previous budget. The budget encouraged private solar companies by reducing the import duty on solar panels by five percent. This is expected to reduce the cost of a rooftop solar-panel installation by 15 to 20%.
The lack of electricity infrastructure is a hurdle to rural India’s development. India’s power grid is under-developed, with large groups of people still living off the grid. In 2004, about 80,000 of the nation’s villages still did not have electricity, 18,000 out of them could not be electrified by extending the conventional grid due to inconvenience. A target of electrifying 5,000 such villages was set for the 2002–2007 Five-Year Plan.
By 2004 more than 2,700 villages were electrified, primarily with solar photovoltaic systems. The development of affordable solar technology is considered a potential alternative, providing an electricity infrastructure consisting of a network of local-grid clusters with distributed electricity generation. It could bypass (or relieve) expensive, long-distance, centralized power-delivery systems, bringing inexpensive electricity to large groups of people. In Rajasthan during Financial Year 2016–17, 91 villages were electrified with a solar standalone system and over 6,200 households received a 100W solar home lighting system.
India has sold about 1.2 million solar home-lighting systems and 3.2 million solar lanterns and has been ranked as the top Asian market for solar off-grid products.
Lamps and lighting
By 2012, a total of 4,600,000 solar lanterns and 861,654 solar-powered home lights were installed. Typically replacing kerosene lamps, they can be purchased for the cost of a few months’ worths of kerosene with a small loan. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is offering a 30 to 40 percent subsidy of the cost of lanterns, home lights and small systems. Twenty million solar lamps are expected by 2022.
Solar photovoltaic water-pumping systems are used for irrigation and drinking water. Most pumps are fitted with a 200–3,000 W (0.27–4.02 hp) motor powered with a 1,800 Wp PV array which can deliver about 140,000 litres (37,000 US gal) of water per day from a total hydraulic head of 10 m (33 ft).
By 31 October 2019 a total of 181,521 solar photovoltaic water pumping systems were installed and total solar photovoltaic water pumping systems would reach 3.5 million by the year 2022 under the PM KUSUM scheme. During the hot and sunny daytime when the water needs are more for watering the fields, solar pumps performance can be improved by maintaining pumped water flowing/sliding over the solar panels to keep them cooler and clean.
Agro photovoltaics is electricity generation without losing agriculture production by using the same land. Solar dryers are used to dry harvests for storage. Low cost solar powered bicycles are also available to ply between fields and villages for agricultural activity, etc.
In addition to solar energy, rainwater is a major renewable resource of any area. In India, large areas are being covered by solar PV panels every year. Solar panels can also be used for harvesting most of the rainwater falling on them and drinking water quality, free from bacteria can be generated by simple filtration and disinfection processes, as rainwater is very low in salinity.
Good quality water resources, closer to populated areas, are becoming a scarcity and increasingly costly for consumers. Exploitation of rainwater for value-added products like bottled drinking water makes solar PV power plants profitable even in high rainfall and cloudy areas by the increased income from drinking water generation.
So these are some major advantages of Solar Power for the rural areas in India. Solar Power is not just for and about urban areas, it’s a holistic approach to so many problems.
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