Solar Power is coming of age?
Fastest growth in technology and business is perhaps in Solar Energy sector these days. Human beings have been late in discovering and accepting the SUN as a useful source for meeting their daily energy requirements. It is said that SUN shines more energy in one hour than the total annual requirement of the world, rich and poor included. It is abundant, it is free and available everywhere. To utilize it profitably has not been easy, although largely due to the chicken egg problem of demand vs technology. However, the oil is now at its end .It will be extinct in less than fifty years and prohibitively expensive much earlier. Although Coal in the world is enough for two centuries, it is creating problems of pollution and green house gases. There was enthusiasm for wind power in the last decade; the availability of wind is still limited. The enthusiasm for wind is still there, however the race is now for solar energy. Solar industry is growing at a rate of more than 40 % per year. Germans are after Solar, more than any body else to be followed by
Solar power has been a dream since Solar Photovoltaic Cells(PV) were first introduced in the space satellites in 1960s.High capital costs and low conversion efficiency have been the major factors making solar power unaffordable. Incremental technological advances have brought these costs down and have improved efficiency many times. Solar cells used to have an efficiency of fewer than 5 %. Today, efficiency of commercially available Solar cells is 17.5 %. There are some with lower efficiency but are also cheaper than the high efficiency (17.5%) solar PV cells.
Chicken-egg syndrome of demand and price ?
Demand and prices used to be a chicken egg problem and it still may be; higher costs are due to low demand, while low demand leads to higher costs; no more. Very high supportive feed-in tariffs have spurred the demand.
Grid parity issues
It appears that the earlier
However, even if grid parity in solar power is achieved as early as 2015, it would not mean overnight conversion in the
The Lessons from Wind?
What does all of this hold for us? Good news, but still not very close-by. Look at the Wind Power. Despite a forward looking policy, we have only a few MW of wind power installation, although a few projects are at an advance stage of processing, which may mean 100-150 MW of wind power in a few years time. Due to heavy demand of Wind Turbines in the Western markets, no wind power equipment vendor was ready to supply wind turbines to our projects. Long lead times were quoted and not honored. In this atmosphere, obviously prices quoted are high also. Of late things seem to be changing; enthusiasm has shifted to solar energy, and considerable resistance developed against wind power due to noise, birds’ safety and aesthetic issues. Consequently vendors are talking to project sponsors in
Cheap Wind Power in
In the mean time,
Perhaps this is the time for us to pursue Wind Power, even if the interest elsewhere may be waning. Firstly, it has only become available now, in practical terms as has been mentioned earlier. We have long stretches of unpopulated areas, with rich wind resources that remain totally untapped. Various ways and means should be investigated to bring down the capital costs.