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New technology can revolutionise solar power generation: Scientist

 

The holographic solar concentrator (HSC) for photo-voltaic cells, a cutting edge technology, can revolutionise solar power generation in the country. This technology has achieved between 30 per cent and 35 per cent efficiency in converting solar energy into electricity, which is thrice the conventional method.

This is the highest level of efficiency achieved in the world so far, claimed eminent scientist Chandra Shekhar, who heads the Instrument Design and Development Centre at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi. This new technology held the key to the future in harnessing solar energy, he said.

Dr Shekhar was here to deliver the keynote address during the national workshop on renewable energy at Jawahar Lal Nehru Engineering College here. India would benefit if it built solar power stations, he suggested. The initial cost could be high, but the country which adopted this new technology would lead in the near future, he claimed.

He said they had not calculated the exact cost of a solar power plant. “It is as competent as thermal and hydroelectricity power plants and the cost will not exceed Rs 5 crore per megawatt. Solar energy has an advantage over thermal, hydroelectric and nuclear energy as it is clean, free and environment friendly and involves little maintenance,” he said.

He pointed out that conventional solar cells broke when the temperature increased beyond 100 degree Centigrade. “The holographic solar concentrator has found a universal solution to this problem. We have used a tracking system as sunlight shifts and have achieved the highest efficiency level,” he said.

The tracking system focused sunlight into a small beam and photo-voltaic cells converted light into electric current using the photoelectric effect, the scientist explained. This breakthrough had come at a time when the National Solar Mission under the National Action Plan on Climate Change aimed at generating 1,000 MW of solar power by 2013, he said.

India increased its grid-connected photo-voltaic cells from 2.5 MW to 1,000 MW last year, he further said. The government should use the new technology as the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy aimed to instal 4 GW of solar power in the Central sector and 6 GW in the state sector, he said. He added that Himachal Pradesh could play a pivotal role in it.

Dr SS Chandel, solar technologist, said they had developed a hybrid of solar and wind energy using heat and steam for cooking and lighting. “We lit the NIT campus. Government buildings and other institutions could adopt it as it saves electricity and liquefied petroleum gas consumption, he added.

The 354-MW Mojave solar power plant in California and the 214-MW Charanka solar park in Gujarat figured among the world’s largest solar plants, he said. The Thar desert, Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur and Ladakh were potential areas for tapping solar power for local and commercial use, he added.

 

The Tribune (05-03-2013)