Solar thermal sector has not found much support in the country despite having applications for industrial, residential and commercial purposes and should be promoted by the government, a Delhi-based green body today said.”Solar thermal has many applications where the heat of the sun is directly used for industrial, residential and commercial purposes but it has not yet found much support in the country,” the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) said.
“The installed capacity of CSP in India is a mere 200 MegaWatts (MW) while solar photovoltaics (PV) on the other hand have an installed capacity of almost 5,000 MW,” it said.In an effort to understand why the solar thermal sector has not been encouraged for power generation and other applications, the CSE today organised a conference ‘The forgotten solar: Solar thermal and its development’.CSE’s report, ‘State of Concentrated Solar Power in India’ which focuses on formulating a roadmap for developing solar thermal in the country, was also presented and discussed on this occasion.
Noting that in the residential sector, the most prominent solar thermal application is solar water heaters that can be installed on any rooftop, the green NGO said in the case of industries, solar thermal can lead to huge fuel savings.”It is estimated that over 15 million tonnes of fuel oil is consumed annually in industries for process heat applications below 250 C and over 35 million tonnes of fuel oil for above 250 C.”Solar thermal has the potential to displace these fuel consumptions. But lack of awareness and expertise in the technology has obstructed the development of this sector,” CSE said.
CSE said that another reason for this is the cost as the cost of installing one MW of CSP is more than double that of PV.”In the interim where solar thermal power generation is not financially feasible, solar thermal applications for industries should be promoted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).”The demand would encourage local manufacturing and create jobs. Indigenous manufacturing and economies of scale would help bring the costs down for power generation as well,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE while emphasising on the need for a coherent plan of development for this sector.