Drawing on Phase 2 experiences, India can develop a robust domestic CSP industry, but key barriers remain. Discussions with CSP stakeholders focused on five areas for driving sustainable CSP technology choices:
- Domestic manufacturing
- Storage to create uninterrupted power opportunities
- Hybridization with base-load capacity
- Availability of heat transfer fluid and turbines
- Water use and availability
Based on research and stakeholder discussions, we have formulated the following key findings on horizon planning for CSP projects under the NSM:
Initial successes in creating a domestic CSP industry: Several CSP developers found the DCR achievable for CSP projects in India for two primary reasons. First, the relatively broad definition of “content” in the DCR includes both labor and equipment that was manufactured in India, even if the company is foreign-owned. Secondly, a large proportion of CSP equipment production requires minimal workforce training. In addition to cheaper, trainable labor and lower costs of sourcing simple components locally, many of the components of a CSP plant’s power block are similar to thermal power plants, where domestic manufacturing expertise already exists. India has a thriving industry focused on the manufacture of steel, power components, control systems, and civil construction, all of which are inputs for a CSP project. As the CSP market develops, Indian manufacturers have an opportunity to step into the industry, promote cost reduction and localization, and also cater to the global market.
CSP storage presents an opportunity for 24-hour clean energy power supply, at a price: Using CSP, storage of solar thermal energy in the form of heat costs less and is more efficient than electrical storage of electricity generated by wind and solar PV systems. Using materials such as molten salt to store thermal energy costs `2,200 to `3,960 ($40 to $72) per kWh capacity, giving CSP a significant advantage to other energy storage alternatives, though making storage expensive overall. With storage, a CSP plant’s capital cost increases as the size of its solar field expands. However, capacity utilization – the amount of electricity produced – also increases and can even double. As a result, the leveled cost of electricity for a CSP plant with storage remains largely flat or increases slightly as compared to a plant without storage.
Opportunities for hybridization of existing fossil fuel and biomass plants: CSP plants can be combined with new or existing conventional coal or gas plants, thermal industrial systems, or
with renewable sources such as biomass. These steam generation plants share the basic power block infrastructure of a CSP plant, including the steam turbine generator. The addition of CSP can effectively increase the fuel efficiency of the hybridized or retrofitted plant for each unit of electricity generation. Hybrid plants also provide dispatchable electricity that can be supplied continuously and reduce emissions by lowering fossil fuel use.
Water efficient technology options are available, but need to be encouraged: If the NSM meets its target of 20 GW of solar by 2022, with 30 percent of the total solar capacity drawn from CSP, the water requirement from CSP plants using water cooled systems will be 36.2 million cubic meters per year, equivalent to the water requirement for 736,000 Indians per day. Lack of water supply has already resulted in occasional shutdowns for coal-based plants, and CSP plants under the NSM will be susceptible to this water stress as well.
Historically, the demand for solar technology has come only after its development. Today, both concentrated and photovoltaic solar technologies are seeing growing demand in their existing markets, and encountering new opportunities to challenge traditional energy sources. Despite seeing global growth of between 19-68 percent year over year from 1992 to 2010 in grid-connected use, photovoltaics have hardly reached their potential. Additionally, the aforementioned market in developing countries and rural applications has been largely overshadowed by grid-connected applications, despite seeing consistent growth of 8-24 percent from 1992 to 2010 across the globe. This off-grid market has seen very little funding as compared to its counterpart, but shows vast potential for the future of photovoltaics.
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 received the certificate on recommendation by a committee constituted by Rajasthan State Nodal Agency and authorized by the NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Limited (NVVN). Taking a giant leap towards making eco-friendly energy in India, GGEL has been successful in building a road to sustainable energy solutions for India.