SOLAR FARMS: A NEED TO SHIFT TOWARDS A RENEWABLE ENERGY

Nowadays, challenges such as limitation of fossil fuels, environmental pollution, importance of energy-mix diversification, and possibility of earning more value from fossil resources have encouraged governments all over the world to promote the renewable energy share in their energy portfolios. Solar energy is one of the best and most economical types of renewable energies in India. It will not only lead to a reduction in most of the human concern such as environmental pollution, new emerging diseases and termination of fossil resources, but also considering India’s climatic conditions, it can be well developed in India. Generally, Concentrating Solar thermal Power (CSP) and photovoltaics (PV) are the two major technologies for exploiting solar energy. In recent years, the utilization of solar energy systems is developing because of its simplicity, easy transport, high reliability, absence of mechanical parts, compatibility with the environment as well as no need for fuel.

India, with its large population and rapidly growing economy, needs access to clean, cheap and reliable sources of energy. India lies in the high solar insolation region, endowed with huge solar energy potential with most of the country having about 300 days of sunshine per year with annual mean daily global solar radiation in the range of 4 - 6 kWh/m2/day. Solar power projects can be set up anywhere in the country. Identifying suitable locations for the construction of solar farms, as with any other engineering project, requires detailed information and accurate planning. In the process of exploiting solar energy, alongside the necessity of existence of solar insolation potential in the region, the vital point is investigating different places considering various technical, socio economic, and environmental criteria. Geographic Information System (GIS) is considered as a very useful and practical tool capable of developing a database which can act as the departure point for guiding any decision support system (DSS).

The study was done for identifying suitable land parcels in Nagpur District for exploitation of Solar farms by Land Suitability Analysis in GIS (Geographic Information System) using Weighted Overlay method for more accurate location of site, planning and decision making using the different parameters like Solar radiations, temperature, Cloud cover, distance from major roads, Land Cover map (Built up area, wasteland, water bodies, vegetation, forest), humidity, slope and elevation of study area. Once the data was collected the maps were generated according to criteria selected for study like Solar radiation, temperature, Cloud cover, Humidity will prepared using IDW tool, Slope tool and Land Utilization and Land Cover map were prepared using Maximum Likelihood Supervised Classification tool. Then all maps were reclassified using reclassify tool and suitability number were assigned to each map from 1 to 5 (1 for Poor and 5 for Excellent). Next, by overlaying these criteria layers, the final map of suitability of  Nagpur District for exploiting solar PV plants was generated using Weighted Overlay tool by assigning weights to each criteria and using evaluation scale of 1 to 5 and the inferences were made from final map of the five defined classes of excellent, good, fair, low, and poor level and area was calculated of each classes. Using this criterion, the weighted overlay analysis was done on basis of five defined classes and results are interpreted that 0.02%, 24.68%, 53.50%, 21.55% and 0.22% comes under Poor, Low, Fair, Good and excellent category for constructing the solar farms. Using this results the most suitable (excellent) and suitable(good) land was separated and seven zones were identified using the factor like waste land and easy accessibility from major roads. The area under this zone were 433.05 Sq.km and capacity of these zones to produce the electricity using solar energy was calculated approximately as 32.5 GW (5 acres of land produce 1 MW of electricity). But if 30% of land is used to construct the solar farm then it can produce 6.67 GW (refer table 13) of electricity and is surplus of electricity required for Nagpur District that is 3.847 GW. Also, the water bodies were given weightage for constructing solar farm as now a days the new technology has evolved of constructing floating solar farms. The main advantage of floating PV plants is that they do not take up any land, except the limited surfaces necessary for electric cabinet and grid connections. Their price is comparable high with land based plants, but they provide a good way to avoid land consumption. Floating PV plants are more compact than land-based plants, their management is simpler and their construction and decommissioning straightforward. The main point is that no fixed structures exist like the foundations used for a land-based plant so their installation can be totally reversible.

                                                                                                                   

The Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are a mechanism for facilitating private sector participation in the delivery of RE infrastructure projects.  PPPs can mobilize private sector capital, technological and operational know-how, and risk appetite to develop, design, finance, build, operate and maintain a RE infrastructure project. The state government need to focus on conducting such GIS studies for identifying suitable land parcels for constructing solar farms and provide such renewable energy infrastructure in partnership with private entities for development and management of solar park using design, build, finance, operate and maintain Public Private Partnership model. Also there should be link between the study and policy mechanism by government for implementation of solar farms as Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects in India, MNRE as a flagship demonstration facility to encourage project developers and investors, prompting additional projects of similar nature, triggering economies of scale for cost-reductions, technical improvements and achieving large scale reductions in GHG emissions.  It would enable States to bring in significant investment from project developers, meet its Solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) mandate and provide employment opportunities to local population. The State will also reduce its carbon footprint by avoiding emissions equivalent to the solar park’s installed capacity and generation. Further, the State will also avoid procuring expensive fossil fuels to power conventional power plants.

Recently a Billionaire Gautam Adani’s renewable firm Adani Green Energy  won a world’s largest solar order to build 8GW of photovoltaic plant worth Rs. 45,000 Crore from Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). This project will help India to achieve its COP21 target of reducing carbon emission as it will displace 900 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetimes and he also said that this is another step in India’s Climate change promise to the world as well as making and enabling India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliant programme) and achieve this great fit by shifting towards a renewable source of energy. This project will also make 4 lakh employment opportunities and will contribute to revive India’s green economy. The purpose of the study is also to make aware that such land parcels can be identified using GIS studies for exploiting solar parks/farms with accurate location and planning and shift from non-renewable source to renewable source of energy so that carbon emissions and environmental pollution can be reduced. There is need that Government should carry out such GIS studies and provide such sustainable/green infrastructure in partnership with private entities that is PPPs. This would help India to be completely renewable rather than be a non-renewable and adopt such green field projects.

 

Together We Will Grow, Together We Will Build

 

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