Home Products Data Centre for Wind Energy to develop solar atlas for India

Centre for Wind Energy to develop solar atlas for India

Chennai, India: Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) is creating a solar atlas for India, which will identify the solar hotspots where the sun’s radiation has optimum intensity for power generation. It will enable solar power developers to accurately pinpoint locations for projects.
The Centre will use satellite imagery – it is requesting the Indian space agency (ISRO) for help. But before that, an important part of the project was completed last month. This involved measuring radiation in 51 locations in India, which threw up some surprises, including the fact that pollution-free Ladakh is more suitable for a photovoltaic project than even Rajasthan. The agency is also developing an algorithm to validate the data.
The expectation is that project developers, armed with the information, will be able to predict the plant’s output with reasonable accuracy. Also, they can make a better choice of which solar technology (photovoltaic, solar thermal or any other) to use.
“Today we use old NASA data,” said Vish Palekar, the chief executive officer of Mahindra Solar. His company just commissioned its first project, a 5 mw unit in Rajasthan, and plans to add 100 mw in about three years. “To have info mapped in India with local conditions will help us further optimise prediction. The entire ecosystem, with solar atlas mapping, will see companies like ours getting aggressive in future,” he added.
Sun-soaked India, which is chronically energy deficient, has drawn up a plan to generate 20,000 mw of solar power by 2022. To realise this goal, the Government of India has created a national solar mission. It includes financial incentives and subsidies to attract investment in this form of clean energy. Out of India’s installed power generation capacity of some 1.9 lakh mw, solar energy currently accounts for just over 100 mw.
But projects with many times that capacity are being planned, with prominent business houses such as the Tatas, Reliance and the Mahindras as well as smaller developers vying for a piece of the solar pie.
“A solar atlas will be very useful. But accuracy depends a lot on how data is being collected – via satellites or combined with ground-based measurements. If there’s a 10 percent gap between actual radiation and what data shows, the energy output can fall by almost 20 percent,” said James V Abraham, managing director & CEO of Sunborne Energy Technologies, a Haryana-based company backed by private equity fund General Catalyst Partners.
For now, radiation data for most locations in India are largely provided by satellites from NASA and others. Some developers have observed a variation in the actual power output compared to the estimates made from satellite data, said Bharat Bhushan Agrawal, analyst at India Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“The solar resource measured at ground level is more reliable than satellite data. This is why some developers have been doing their own ground data measurements.”
Source: Economic Times