Despite these advantages, much more needs to be done to scale up CSP sustainably. CSP is currently more expensive than photovoltaic (PV) technology, takes longer to set up, and consuming more water per unit of electricity produced. These are not necessarily reasons to abandon CSP altogether as innovation and development can address some of these barriers. But, they do highlight challenges that the development of the CSP market could possibly face in India.
In April 2012, the Council for Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published an interim report titled “Laying the Foundation for a Bright Future: Assessing Progress under Phase 1 of India’s National Solar Mission 1″. The report, focused on grid-connected solar PV projects, highlighted the importance of a robust solar ecosystem to realize the objectives of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNN Solar Mission). The purpose of this report is to highlight the progress of CSP projects under Phase 1 of the Mission, highlighting challenges arising during Phase 1 implementation, and look ahead at planning for Phase 2. As on-the-ground CSP data is sparse at this stage, this report draws on extensive stakeholder discussions and research on national, state, and international CSP initiatives. For a country where access to affordable electricity and the stability of its grid infrastructure are both critical priorities, it would be an error to impose a false choice between PV and CSP technologies. Both are needed to diversify India’s electricity sources and make access to electricity more sustainable, affordable, and predictable.
The CSP market has to be evaluated on its own merit. Our findings suggest that the Indian government ought to continue to foster CSP development at this stage, even as PV projects progress on the back of rapidly falling PV module prices. As the Mission matures, appreciating the unique roles that both CSP and PV can play in the energy mix is the key to ensuring ﬂexible policy emphasis on each solar technology. We describe key findings from our analysis, as well as recommendations to strengthen the next phase of the Mission.
CSP Opportunities in India
In India, Rajasthan is the most suitable area for concentrated solar power projects. Most of the uncertainties surrounding the CSP sector will end with the commissioning of a few projects which are currently under implementation with transparent project evaluation & Selection methodologies of the policy.
Successful implementation of proposed phase – II & III projects require expertise from the countries that have acquired a level of maturity. Large size & high efficiency projects with storage shall be given preference by developers to help them bring down the project cost and in turn the LCOE to align with the mission goal of “Grid Parity by 2020″.
A number of solar collector manufacturers have already made a headway into India and catering to Phase – I projects. Availability of trained & cheap manpower who can now appreciate the high tolerance requirements of optical technology structures & equipment.
Godawari Green Energy Limited (GGEL) received the commissioning certificate from RREC, the Rajasthan Renewal Energy Corporation Limited, for the first commercial scale Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant of India. GGEL, the 100% subsidiary of Godawari Power & Ispat Limited (GPIL) is Chhattisgarh’s leading steel & power company. GGEL received the certificate on recommendation by a committee constituted by Rajasthan State Nodal Agency and authorized by the NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Limited (NVVN); thus endorsing the 50MW project to be officially and commercially operative with effect from 19th June 2013.
Taking a giant leap towards making eco-friendly energy in India, the CSP plant features state of the art parabolic trough, the technology named Euro-trough SKAL ET-150, and had commenced supplying infirm electricity to the grid on 5th June 2013, the “World Environment Day”. The plant has been built in approximately Rs. 800 Crores (USD 145 million) and is expected to displace approximately 11,30,000 tons of CO2 in a year. The plant is capable of lighting 200,000 Indian homes, while simultaneously preserving the environment. With its achievement, GGEL has been successful in building a road to sustainable energy solutions for India.
“The successful commercial operation of the GGEL 50MW project is a milestone in India’s energy diversification strategy and a step towards long-term energy security”, said J.P.Tiwari, CEO of GGEL. “It was a great learning experience to work closely with our national and international partners. Sharing our expertise and capabilities has given us confidence to undertake similar large-scale projects in future, anywhere under the sun. While we are buoyed by this success, we also know that we have a long way to go in establishing this technology firmly in the home ground, by maximizing exploitation of solar energy to generate more power and by bringing down the cost of such projects through indigenization and optimization.”
Siddharth Agrawal, Managing Director of GGEL commented “It was an incredibly tough journey filled with challenges, questions, detours and self doubts, but the GGEL team exceeded the market’s expectations as far as project construction and commissioning was concerned and once again thanked the collective efforts of all who helped us realize this dream”.
Though the technology is based on solar energy, it’s unique engineering ensures that the power plant can continue to generate electricity long after the sun sets or is obscured by clouds. CSP stations with parabolic trough technology are steam-driven power stations that generate electricity from heat. Parabolic mirrors arranged in long rows concentrate the solar radiation onto the receiver, inside which a carrier liquid is heated to almost 400 degrees Celsius. The heat, in turn, is used to raise steam that drives a conventional steam turbine and creates electricity. The extraordinary aspect about CSP electricity is its dispatch ability in the form of heat. The energy can easily be stored and fed into the grid when power is really needed, be it day or night, cloudy or sunny. This facilitates load management in grids a factor destined to be of increasing importance as the contribution of solar energy to India’s electricity mix rises.