We’ve all heard about renewable energy helping the planet fight climate change. But what should one do if climate change is impacting the production of renewable energy?
A new study by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences and the National Observatory of Athens, Greece and published in the journal Remote Sensing found that forest fires that break especially during the summer season play a major role in reducing solar power generation in India apart from clouds, pollution and aerosols.
This subsequently leads to financial losses. From January to April 2021, the solar radiation received from the sun was found to have decreased by 45 per cent. The energy production during this quarter was 650 kWh per square metre while the revenue generated was 79.5 million.
The loss due to aerosols was eight million and clouds was 14 million. The plant’s total capacity was 40 GW. The study shows that the aerosol optical depth values were up to 1.8 during the study period when massive forest fire events led to reduction of global horizontal irradiance — GHI and beam horizontal irradiance —BHI by 0 to 45 per cent.
While India has the capacity and resources to use solar energy extensively, many factors limit solar irradiance. Solar irradiance is the power per unit area received from the Sun as electromagnetic radiation whose wavelength is measured through an instrument called a pyrheliometer.
The solar irradiance is measured in watt per square metre (W/m2) in SI units. Solar power can be used efficiently by planning and estimation of solar potential. As heat waves increase, so do forest fires ... especially in states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand which have a thick forest cover.
These studies are essential because not only do they help enhance the security of power plants, but also plan energy production and distribution. Additionally, they will also support in formulating mitigatory policies of climate change.