The glass components like vacuum tubes or curved mirrors are largely imported being specialised. India’s solar thermal market is steady hence gives confidence for “Make in India”. However, government needs to extend incentives for manufacturing and exploit the domestic skilled human resources. In short “Opportunities Infinite but Challenges Many Ahead”, believes Jaideep N. Malaviya, Secretary General, Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI), a not-for-profit organisation providing a voice and platform for the Indian solar thermal industry. In conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Saur Energy International, Malaviya shared his views on various topics including scope for solar heat in industrial processes under Make in India, industries having maximum potential, new opportunities for clean energy etc. Here’re the excerpts from that exclusive interview published in the Saur Energy International Magazine’s April 2020 edition:
Q. How do you see the scope for solar heat in industrial processes?
Energy demand of the industrial sector accounts for close to 42 percent of the imported crude oil (nearly 200 million tonnes), out of which around 30 million tonnes provided thermal energy at temperatures below 250 degree Celsius. Our completed study under the Solar Payback identifies Solar Heat for Industrial Process (SHIP) in India presently best suits up to 150 degree Celsius.
Q. In your view, what is the scope for solar thermal w.r.t. ‘Make in India’? Industry challenges?
That is a very good question. The glass components like vacuum tubes or curved mirrors are largely imported being specialised. India’s solar thermal market is steady hence gives confidence for “Make in India”. However, government needs to extend incentives for manufacturing and exploit the domestic skilled human resources. In short “Opportunities Infinite but Challenges Many Ahead”.
Q. What are your suggestions for the key policy makers to boost the use of solar heat in industrial processes?
We have been strongly pushing for a Heat Obligation in large scale industries requiring heat up to 250 degree Celsius similar to what is mandated for solar power. To begin with 5 percent can be using renewable heating and gradually increasing the target. For every 3 million m2 of installed area the annual diesel saved will be 20 million litres of diesel on continuous basis and abate worth 55,000 tons of CO2 annually.
If government is really serious to avoid import of fuel then such a drive is required. The dairy processing industry itself can absorb this target and can be the focussed sector. Secondly, performance based incentive instead of upfront subsidy like a tradeable certificate can be offered after every 5 years if successfully performs. Finally, SHIP systems being capital intensive Viability Gap Funding (VGF) may be extended for financial attractiveness.
Q. What are the challenges faced for concentrated solar thermal systems?
The concentrated solar thermal programme in India is now almost 10 years. There are many takeaways major being honouring warranty of 5 years, quality of installations, providing operation and maintenance, lack of proper Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) data.
Q. As government is focusing to double the capacity for milk processing in the country by 2025? Will it open new opportunities for clean energy as well?
The Solarpayback study identified dairy processing having maximum potential as most of the processes requiring heat is under 150 degree celsius. India is already a global leader in milk processing. The recent announcement to double the milk production from 53 million metric ton (MMT) to 108 MMT will lead to virtually doubling of processing. I also foresee air based Heat pumps to appear in the picture.
Q. How do you think Covid-19 crisis is impacting the solar industry in India? Time required to recover from it?
The overall industry is impacted. If crude prices drop considerably then it will defy solar heating since payback will not be so attractive. Similarly, if industrial activity remains partial then a surplus power situation may arise and utilities may not be able to honour renewable power purchase. There may be instances of job losses as well. But even in such tough times I feel the spirit of renewable energy industry is “business as usual” as climate change is much more serious issue.
Q. What do you think amid coronavirus crisis, is this the time to put more focus on domestic manufacturing of components like solar cell and wafers?
As already mentioned domestic manufacturing provides a kind of insurance in domestic supply chain and keeps the momentum going. I would further go a step further if domestic industries can as well add export in their menu as the time is ripe to take advantage of the situation. This will lead to jobs creation.
Q. What would corona pandemic shape the future of renewable energy?
Owing to lockdown the industrial and transport activity is virtually halted, which has made the air clean. The masses are practically experiencing how beneficial clean air is and renewable can provide the necessary answer when life restores to normalcy. Irrespective of any pandemic renewable energy will continue to be on growth path in order to meet the sustainability goals.