Chennai, July 7 (IANS) The state-run Solar Energy Corporation of India is planning to set up small, pilot power plants with strong linkages with research and academic institutions to develop technologies and products relevant for India.
"We need to put up demonstration solar power units, say, of five MW of two or three configurations in a solar park and collect the data for scaling them up. The solar park will be close to R&D (research and development) units and academic institutions," Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the corporation, told IANS in an interview.
He, however, declined to disclose the probable locations where such parks would come up.
Kakodkar said the corporation would put up solar power plants on its own.
"We are looking at concentrated photo voltaic plants while there are other options also," said the former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
He said there is a possibility of having large solar collectors that would move the sun's rays to be finally collected into a photovoltaic module. Another technology is having a combination of a tower and photovoltaic mirrors. The mirror would reflect the sunlight on a tower which would beam the rays back to a photovoltaic panel on the ground.
Kakodkar said India should have a long-term strategic plan for sustainable development of the solar power sector while being conscious of the need to do value addition within the country.
One of the elements of such a strategic plan is to reduce the cost by developing technologies and products that are India-centric.
"For example in India the dust load on solar panels are high. In Rajasthan, the sand particles on the panels are high. We have to see how the dust load on panels could be minimised," Kakodkar said.
On the products side, he said the country should look at the possibility of taking solar lantern manufacturing to the cottage industry level that would generate jobs in rural areas.
"With rooftops solar power being looked at, schools in rural areas can have them. The students can bring the solar lanterns to school for recharge and use at home in the evening. Like the mid-day meals scheme the rooftop solar power panels can attract students to schools."
Similarly, the option of having a hybrid micro power grid comprising solar-biomass or solar-wind could be looked at in rural areas. A hybrid of solar-biomass will reduce the battery cost of the solar power plant as the biomass plant can be operated at will, he said.
Asked about stipulating local content in solar power projects, Kakodkar said the regulations should not result in creating uncompetitive domestic sector while there should be clarity on the way in which the Indian market should grow.
He said the growth of solar technology in India will be similar to the growth of nuclear reactor in the country, that is, choosing relevant technology for the country and bringing down its cost.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)
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