Observations of a Non-Scientist about Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy and the Power of the Sun.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Solar Farming Potential in India

Solar Farming Potential in India


Solar energy represents a bright spot on India’s economic front. If India makes a massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar and other renewable sources, it is possible that 100% of India’s electricity could be from renewable energy by 2050. Solar energy would require the creation of a vast region of photovoltaic cells in the Southwest and other parts of the country that could operate at night as well as during the day. Excess daytime energy can be stored in various forms such as molten or liquid salt (a mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate), compressed air, pumped hydro, hydrogen, battery storage, etc., which would be used as an energy source during nighttime hours.

Solar Energy will be competitive with coal as improved and efficient solar cells, concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) enter the market. I predict that solar farming advancements and growth would empower India’s rural economies and companies will move their operations from urban areas to rural areas due to cheaper land and labor within the solar belt.

Solar Farming is a renewable source of energy and the greenest form of commercial energy. Solar Energy has become the leading alternative to the costly and eco disasters associated with fossil fuels. I urge the Government of India to accelerate the country’s solar energy expansion plans and policies by implementing government subsidies for residential solar power through renewable energy rebates and feed-in tariffs. Solar Farming is a great concept for an efficient use of barren land and to develop large utility scale solar energy farms to meet India’s economic development goals.

For example, Google is investing $168 Million in the biggest Solar Farm ever. When completed in 2013, the Mojave Desert-based Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will send approximately 2,600 megawatts of power to the grid, doubling the amount of solar thermal power produced in the U.S and generating enough electricity to power 140,000 California homes when operating at full capacity.

I personally think there are no technological or economic barriers to supplying almost 100% of India’s energy demand through the use of clean renewable energy from solar, wind, hydro and biogas by 2050. India needs a radical transformation of energy system to the efficient use of renewable energies, especially solar power.

Solar Energy is a game-changing program for India. India must accelerate and encourage the domestic development of renewable energy now. It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will to achieve this goal to eliminate our wasteful spending and dependence on foreign sources of energy. The Indian Government should provide favorable government policies to ease the permitting process and to provide start-up capital to promote the growth of solar energy. State and central governments should provide initiatives and other support in order to increase solar power plant capacity. India could potentially increase grid-connected solar power generation capacity to over 200,000 MW by 2030, if adequate resources and incentives are provided. Solar energy is a Win-Win situation for India and the environment, and has the potential to power India’s economy, create millions of new jobs and change the face of India as a Green Nation.

Darshan Goswami has over 35 years of experience in the energy field. He is presently working for the United States Department of Energy (DOE) as a Project Manager in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. He retired as Chief of Energy Forecasting and Renewable Energy from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC. Earlier, he worked for 30 years at Duquesne Light Company, an electric utility company in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. He is a registered Professional Electrical Engineer with a passion and commitment to promote, develop and deploy Renewable/Green Energy Resources and the Hydrogen Economy. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer.

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