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India’s solar power potential mapped by scientists from IISc

As Panchabuta had mentioned in January this year, researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, are mapping India’s solar hot spots—where round-the-year sunlight makes it viable for companies to set up solar power plants. The study can play a crucial role in enhancing India’s energy supply.

In the first phase of the study, supported by the environment ministry and being conducted at IISc’s Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), researchers have mapped states and regions with an abundance of sunlight.

According to reports, scientists from IISc have come out with priority regions to deploy solar energy devices across the country.

“By mapping the solar hotspots, we hope to facilitate commercial exploitation of energy with favourable techno-economic prospects and organisational infrastructure support to augment solar power generation in the country,” said Dr T V Ramachandra, senior scientist, EWRG, CES, IISc.

The detailed, three-month-long study provides access to solar potentiality by documenting the solar insolation, the much required parameter to generate solar energy. Trans-gangetic and Gujarat plains are among regions deemed to hold high potential.

The researchers had collected data for more than 900 grids covering the entire topography of India and found that the nation has a vast potential for solar power generation – about 58 per cent of total land area (1.89 million km sq). “It receives an annual average global insolation above 5 kWh per metre sq per day (m sq),” Ramachandra said.

The study, conducted along with two more researchers, Rishabh Jain and Gautham Krishnadas, has also documented the data of insolation for every month.

According to the monthwise data findings, during January, major parts of the southern peninsula receive insolation above 4.5 kWh per metre sq per day, while western coastal plains and ghats region receive 5.5 kWh per m sq and western Himalayas and North India receive the minimum of 2.5 kWh m sq.

During February, a major expanse of the Indian landscape receives above 5 kWh  per m sq, while states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern region receive an insolation in the range of 3-4 kWh  m per sq.

During April and May, more than 90 per cent of the country receives minimum insolation up to 5 kWh m sq  which rises up to 7.5 kWh m sq, while the eastern Himalayas receive 4.7 kWh m per sq.

During the monsoon, the global insolation drops drastically in the south (with the exception of Tamil Nadu) and north-eastern regions to about 3.9 kWh m sq and it continues until September.

“The country receives annual sunshine of 2,600- 3,200 hours. Direct insolation with a minimum threshold value of 1,800 kWh m sq per year or 5 kWh m sq per day is reccomended to achieve levelised electricity costs (LEC),” the report said.

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