Should solar thermal be preferred over photovoltaic solar power?
Concentrated solar power (CSP) or solar thermal technology is to be given substantial allocation in the second phase of the national solar mission (2013-2017). This was revealed by the joint secretary in the ministry of new and renewable energy, Tarun Kapoor, at the third concentrated solar thermal power summit on March 14, organised in Gurgaon. He stated that detailed plans would be revealed in the next few months. At the same time he admonished the industry. "Companies can't always work for profit; sometimes they must work for a cause," he said.
The first phase (2010-2013) of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) of 1,000 MW was split 50:50 between photovoltaic (PV) solar and CSP technology, but there were no guarantees of continuing with this ratio in the second phase. CSP technology works by concentrating sunlight through mirrors to heat a liquid that generates steam to run a turbine and generate electricity. PV solar technology, on the other hand, works by using semi-conductors to convert the energy in photons directly into electricity.
Only one solar thermal plant operational
PV plants are faster to install and some of the first phase projects are already commissioned (see 'Solar trick') while 470 MW of CSP is still in the construction phase (see table). So far only one 2.5 MW CSP plant is working, and that too at reduced capacity—the ACME Telepower Solar Power Tower in Bikaner, Rajasthan.
|Name||Programme||Size and technology||Location||Status||Deadline|
|ACME Solar Power Tower||JNNSM Migration phase||2.5 MW Solar Tower||Bikaner, Rajasthan||functioning but with reduced capacity||-|
|Lanco Infratech 'Diwakar'||JNNSM Phase 1||100 MW Parabolic Trough with 4 hour storage||Askandra, Rajasthan||Land-levelling completed, orders placed for most of the equipment||May 2013|
|KVK Energy Ventures||JNNSM Phase 1||100 MW Parabolic Trough||Askandra, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan||-||May 2013|
|Reliance Power (Rajasthan Sun Technique)||JNNSM Phase 1||100 MW Linear Fresnel||Dhursar, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan||-||May 2013|
|Corporate Ispat Alloy/Abhijeet||JNNSM Phase 1||50 MW Parabolic Trough||Nokh, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan||Basic Engineering completed and orders placed for most equipment||May 2013|
|Godawari Green||JNNSM Phase 1||50 MW Parabolic Trough||Nokh, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan||Land-levelling done, orders placed for most equipment||May 2013|
|Aurum Ventures||JNNSM Phase 1||20 MW Parabolic Trough||Mitrala, Porbandar, Gujarat||Land-levelling done, orders placed for most equipment||May 2013|
|Cargo Solar/Cargo Power and Infrastructure||Gujarat Solar Policy||25 MW Parabolic Trough with 9 hours storage||Kutch, Gujarat||Under construction||Expected commissioning in March 2013|
|Source: project developers|
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