Monday, 11 February 2013

Solar Energy Capacity to exceed Wind Energy?

Primary Renewable Energy sources in India are Wind, Biomass, Small Hydro and Solar. By installed capacity - Wind Energy dominates the RE space with nearly 18,000 MW (18 GW) of installed capacity.
Distant second is Small Hydro and Biomass with around 3 GW of installed capacity each. Solar Energy - which has just started picking up - is just over 1 GW.

Renewable Energy - Solar Energy, Wind Energy Installed Capacity Breakup
Fig. 1 - Renewable Energy - % Breakup in India 
as on Dec 2012

Solar Energy usage for power generation started in 2011 - nearly 20 years after the use of Wind Energy. Moreover Wind Energy was supported with several incentives and benefits including tax breaks. It is therefore natural for Wind Energy to lead the pack of RE in India. In fact Solar power is also supported by various incentives and subsidies - in fact more than wind. But interestingly quick penetration / adaption of Solar power, technology improvements and high demand has resulted in significant reduction in cost of power generation from PV Solar. One of our other posts stresses on the fact that PV Solar power project can also become financially viable even in the absence of subsidies and incentives.

While it has taken Wind Energy around 20 years to reach about 18 GW it has taken Solar Energy less than 2 years to reach a cumulative figure exceeding 1 GW. There are reasons for strong growth of Solar Energy in India and there is no doubt that further growth will be exponential. In fact capacity-wise PV Solar Power generation will  far exceed that of Wind Energy in the years to come because :
  1. Solar radiation across 85% Country can be termed as good to excellent and hence majority of Country is ideal for use of Solar Energy. As compared to this Wind Energy can only be used in around 30% of the Country as per CWET.
  2. Cost - which plays a major factor in deciding the success of a RE - is a bit higher for PV Solar. However the cost of power generation from PV Solar has come down significantly in recent times and now the cost of generating PV Solar power is almost at par with that of wind. With advancement in technology and opening up of new markets cost of power generation from PV Solar will continue to come down and PV will perhaps achieve absolute grid parity in India by 2014/15. 
  3. Life of a PV Solar project is around 25 to 30 years with appropriate warranties for major components in place. Moreover the wear and tear is very low as in a static PV Solar system there are no moving parts. This far outweighs the Wind energy which has moving parts and requires periodic maintenance as well - not to mention the loss in output due to maintenance. PV Solar is a fit-and-forget system with upfront Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and ZERO Operational Expenditure (OPEX).
  4. Solar PV is highly modular and easily scalable and installations can be as small as sub-kW level as well. Smallest wind turbines are in kW level. Hence PV Solar is the most ideal for decentralized power for home use. For a Country like India which has one of the highest T&D (aka ATC) losses decentralized power will prove to be a game-changer. PV Solar will thus prove a boon for areas where grid has not yet reached.
  5. PV Solar is the most ideal for captive use for Industrial Plants especially in States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh etc. where per cost of power (per kWh) is around INR 6.0 to INR 8.0.  It may not be suitable for these plants to go for smaller wind turbines due to maintenance and other issues. More about PV Solar's suitability for Industrial Plants can be seen in our FREE Solar Energy Report.
Once the above benefits and facts are commonly known among the masses PV Solar will gain popularity and  hence result in rampant use of PV Solar at all levels. In this post we have given detailed comparison between Wind and Solar. However it is a known fact that PV Solar scores over other Renewable Energy Technologies as well as can be seen here - How and Why PV Solar scores over other Renew Techs?

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