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Kerala has potential for 10,000 MW in solar rooftop energy: Expert

According to reports, Kerala has a solar rooftop potential of 10,000 MW at the present efficiency level of 16.5 per cent. This could increase to 20,000 MW as efficiency of module is improved.

It is predicted that higher efficiency of 30 to 35 per cent will be achieved by 2020, according to K. Sivadasan, a retired senior official of Kerala State Electricity Board.

Solar efficiency refers to the amount of ambient light that can be converted into usable electricity. There are two ways to evaluate photovoltaic solar efficiency.

Solar cell efficiency is the amount of light that the individual solar cell converts to electricity. Solar panel efficiency refers to the amount of light that the entire module converts to electricity.

Feed-in-tariff (FIT) is an administrative mechanism to encourage investment in solar sector. This gives priority to renewable energy sources for guaranteed access to the grid.

FIT guarantees that electricity from renewable energy source can be sold to the utility grid to ensure guaranteed long-term payments for energy transferred at a predetermined rate.

The incredible growth in global solar capacity has been accomplished thanks to FIT and rooftop grid connected solar installation, he told Business Line on the sidelines of a lecture here.

Massive production of components has brought down the unit price of components resulting in overall decline in cost of solar power.

Cost of power from solar declines at seven per cent annum. But the cost of grid energy rises at three per cent per annum.

Rise in cost of grid energy may be faster due to the impending global shortage of fossil fuels. However, the decline in cost of solar power is here to stay.

Agency for Non-Conventional Energy and Rural Technology, an autonomous body and nodal agency, is spearheading a rudimentary 10,000-solar rooftop power plants programme in the State.

Present annual energy demand of the State is 17,000 million units; available resource is just 7,000, making an annual deficit of 10,000. Demand increases at 600 million units annually.

Solar energy in the State has reached grid parity with conventional energy, which is when electricity from solar source proves less costly than electricity from the existing grid.

The State grid is mainly fed from hydroelectric stations. Solar energy cannot reach grid parity with hydroelectric energy in the near future.

“But we can reach grid parity with our ‘delivered energy charge at consumer point,” Sivadasan said.

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