Study identifies high-density solar pockets in Karnataka, where it recommends setting up of energy plants
In a bid to scale up the country’s solar energy harvest, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has identified Karnataka as one of the hotspots in the country for assured solar energy.
Most parts of Karnataka receive high assured solar energy annually (2,000-2,500 kilowatt-hours per square metre), while some pockets get very high — more than 2,500 kWh per square metre per year.
The finding is significant in the backdrop of fast-depleting conventional energy resources.
According to scientists from the Space Applications Centre of ISRO, Ahmedabad, quantification of assured solar energy potential is essential in selecting locations for solar photovoltaic (PV) and thermal power plants. The present assessment would help with “site selection for installation of new large-scale, solar-based power generation systems and also to compute roof-top solar energy potential” in urban and rural India.
“The over-consumption of the available conventional energy resources in the past few decades has brought in front the threat of energy crisis due to depleting non-renewable energy sources and increasing population. Moreover, it has also deteriorated the quality of the environment. The use of alternative forms of energy reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and serve better to complement national energy security. Among these, solar energy can be a good alternative and renewable energy source to fulfil the current energy needs,” said the authors.
The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, has set an ambitious target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid-connected solar power by 2022 and aims to reduce the cost of solar power generation in the country.
While India receives one of the highest levels of solar energy in the world, it currently remains untapped and under-utilised. It accounts for only 0.8 per cent of the total power generation capacity in the country, said the authors.
The study helped in identifying solar hotspots through remote sensing observation from geostationary meteorological satellite. According to the results, high-density solar energy pockets were diagnosed in western, central and southern India, including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh, which had an annual solar energy exposure ranging from 2500 to 3500 kWh (kilowatt-hours) per square metre annually. The findings will be published later in the Current Science journal.
Out of the total assured solar energy over Indian landmass, grasslands receive about 39 per cent, followed by desert (29 per cent) land. The wasteland and shrub lands receive 21 per cent and 14 per cent of assured energy, respectively.
This information can prove to be highly valuable for the ministry of new and renewable energy or other state agencies as it can help in zeroing in on suitable sites to install solar energy plants.
“The country receives annual assured global insolation [solar radiation that reaches the earth’s surface] up to 2500 kWh per square metre, which could meet the escalating power demand of the country in a decentralised, efficient and sustainable manner. Moreover, sustainable development is the only way to prevent climate change, and the use of renewable source of energy is a better alternative,” said the findings.