Concentrated solar energy to Dominate in India in the Future

Fossil fuels like natural gas, petroleum and coal dominate the world but the future seems to be in renewable energy sources, as fossil fuels are rapidly disappearing.

The Oil and Gas Journal, World Oil indicates that oil reserves in the world would be depleted more or less in 43 years, coal in 417 years and natural gas in 167 years. Most countries including India are banking on solar power, which can generate electricity by PV or indirectly by Concentrated Solar Power CSP. Research is being conducted to develop solar energy powered devices such as iPhones for aircrafts.

In India adoption of green technologies has relatively been much slower. However, in 2008, a massive program was launched under the aegis of the National Solar Mission (NSM) for generating 20,000 MW power by 2020. By 2035, India would lead the solar energy industry by producing 8% of the total electricity generated in the world.

Currently, the major hurdle for the solar industry in India is the prohibitive costs of the solar equipment. 1MW of solar power needs an investment of almost Rs 14 Crore, which is double the investment needed for thermal power. Furthermore, over an acre of land is required for establishing a solar unit, which could generate 1MW of power. India has a plan of subsidizing an amount of Rs. 90,000 Crore for setting up solar power plants and is concentrating on powering the remote and inaccessible villages.

Corporates both in India and abroad are attracted mainly because of the huge volume of business and have shown interest for supplying the solar equipments. However, in the month of April, a regulation is to be effected, which would prevent companies from importing solar panels for the NSM. This has created a furor among the high level lobbyists in the US. But India plans to utilize locally manufactured solar panels in the NSM projects and has made it clear that NSM could utilize foreign solar panels only if they have set up manufacturing facilities inside India via joint ventures. Some of the US firms have agreed to this proposal.

Despite raising the solar energy issue during the talks conducted by Gary Locke, the US Commerce Secretary with India’s Commerce Minister, Anand Sharma, nothing has been done so far to alter the policy. Solar energy would immediately start bringing in revenues for the Indian Government as it would decrease the subsidies given by the Government for importing fossil fuels and even conventional electricity.

First Solar and SunPower are some of the US firms, which lead the solar market in the supply of solar panels. The key players in the Indian solar industry are likely to be Moser Baer India and a joint venture between BP Solar and Tata Power, the Tata BP Solar India along with a few small and medium solar panel manufacturers. Hyderabad seems to be the central point with more than 35 large and medium solar companies, and all of them through the Solar Energy Manufacturers’ Association have urged the Non-Conventional Energy Development of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP) to promote solar power in such a way as to reduce the production costs. The government is trying to promote the Sunder bans Solar Plant as a model for all other to emulate, as it has over 18 to 20 PV projects that supply electricity for the one lakh population.

The newly formed Lauren CCL partnership will be focused on designing and building Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) projects in India. Lauren has installed 90% of the CSP Facilities in the United States and looks to leverage this experience to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to the solar power market in India.

Lauren Engineers & Constructors, Inc, a leading Design-Build contractor in the United Sates, announced today the formation of a new partnership with CCL Optoelectronics Private Limited to pursue the installation of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) facilities in India.

“Lauren is a leader in the design and construction of concentrated solar energy facilities in the United States, and we’re excited about the opportunity to expand our business in this new market,” said Cleve Whitener, Lauren’s Chief Executive Officer. “The Lauren CCL partnership is focused on leveraging our broad base of experience in concentrated solar energy projects to create innovative and cost-effective solutions for the Solar Power market in India.”

The Government-Sponsored Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission has provided a timeline for developing a large number of solar projects in India over the next decade. Specifically, the Mission has set a target of 20,000 megawatts of solar power generation over the next decade.