Govt eyes concentrated solar power systems in renewable energy parks – Moneycontrol

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The best part about centralised solar power parks is that the system also has an energy storage facility, which allows it to supply clean electricity even during the night hours or on cloudy days

Going beyond solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, the Union government is now planning to bring in concentrated solar power systems for large renewable energy parks or farms.

Senior officials told Moneycontrol that Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is planning to float the country’s first-of-its-kind tender asking for a blend of concentrated solar power system and other technologies.

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What is a concentrated solar power system?

Concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies use a mirror configuration to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver and convert it into heat. The heat can then be used to create steam to drive a turbine to produce electrical power or used as industrial process heat. It is 100 percent renewable energy.

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The best part about CSP is that the system also has an energy storage facility, which allows it to supply clean electricity even during the night hours or on cloudy days.

Why is the government considering it apart from the usual solar PV modules?

Solar PV modules are good for domestic rooftops as well as large projects due to their well-established supply chain ecosystem. It is also more cost-effective as of now, compared to CSP. However, solar PV modules still offer only 18-50 percent efficiency, whereas CSP technologies are capable of higher efficiencies, although the number is yet to be benchmarked.

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The biggest advantage CSP has over solar PV modules is dispatchability. CSPs allow dispatchable power, which can be saved and utilised to create energy when required, even after the sun has set.

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For CSPs though, the location is important because concentrated solar requires high Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI), whereas photovoltaics use Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) and the same locations may not be ideally suited to both.

Projects in India so far

There have been only a handful of solar thermal or CSP projects in India so far. The largest one is a 150 MW CSP in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, while another is a 50 MW plant in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.

The government is also in talks with Belgium, Israel, Spain and Germany to understand their use cases and for technology sharing.

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