Thursday , 21 February 2019

Use of solar energy witnessing slow progress

Renewable energy in Goa is at low level despite measures to make it popular by organizations like the Goa Energy Development Agency, discovers Bhiva P Parab

The use of non-conventional energy and especially the solar energy is witnessing slow progress in the state. With small units in the sector itself witnessing slow progress it is not surprising that for large commercial production of non-conventional energy we still have long way to go.

Currently there are small solar units in the range of three KW scattered around various places and the total of the units comes to more than 400 KW. Goa is a small state and solar energy projects require large tracts of land. To install a project of one MW, land of five acre is required which goes to 20,000 sq mts  if it is a 20 MW project.  Looking at the difficulty in getting large track of land for big projects commercial purpose, the Goa Energy Development Agency (GEDA) is recommending small units.

It may be noted that the bigger the plant the cost is low and for Goa we can go for one MW to two MW plants depending upon the availability of land. The suggestion is for distributed network of power production by solar roof tops units of small capacity. States like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have made major strides in non conventional energy.

The solar water heating systems use solar energy which is a free and renewable. The systems are cost effective in the long run so they are increasingly becoming popular in the state. In sunny and warm places with high insolation values solar water heating systems are cost effective and in the state of Goa we have high insolation during most months of the year, except during the monsoon. According to experts, solar water heating systems are very cost effective in Goa and offer relatively good payback period of average five years. The lifespan of the solar heater is around 15 years.

Ground level information reveals that, solar water systems are environmentally friendly and also have low maintenance costs. It requires small space of around 3×3 meters for installation. On an average for a family of 4 to 5 people a 100 litres solar water heater is enough and the solar water heaters are cost competitive when you account for the total energy costs over the lifetime of the heater. The initial cost of it however is higher than that of electric water heaters. The cost of the solar heaters varies according to the capacity and starts at around Rs 18,000.

Wind power is harnessed by setting up a windmill which is used for pumping water, grinding grain and generating electricity and areas with constantly high speed are well-suited for harnessing wind energy. There are small windmills installed at various places in Aldona, Siolim, Bambolim and Saligao, which generate around 3 KW of energy. It is used as backup when the normal electricity goes off. There are no commercial windmills in the state, according to the information available from the sources.

For generation of energy by windmill the wind speed need to be more than 3.5 mts/sec and the speed needs to be continuously high. Most households tend to go in for solar water heaters as one can use as much hot water as required once the solar panels are installed.

Energy generated by using wind, tides, solar, geothermal heat, and biomass including farm and animal waste as well as human excreta is known as non conventional energy and all these sources are renewable or inexhaustible and do not cause environmental pollution.

“When we had build our house we had installed the solar water heater as we use lot of hot water and felt that a electric geyser could be costly. Further relatives and friends visit our house frequently and so our need of hot water is more. The solar water heater comes out to be a better option than the electric geyser,” said a consumer. He added that, the maintenance cost of the system is also low and in the last several years from the time of installation the family is incurred low cost on maintenance. Only during the rains the electric geyser is used.”

With good sunlight, solar cookers can be used to cook food for most of the months. The box type solar cookers are priced at an around Rs 3000 to 3500 per piece. It is convenient to use and catching up in the state. The solar cooker is a simple compact, box type device, having a mirror, which reflects sunrays on the cooking pots placed in an insulated box. There are good number of buyers for solar cookers. The cooking is faster in summer than in winter and the time taken to cook depends on the type of food item and time of the day. Best time for cooking is between 11 a.m  and 2 p.m and the cooking time is generally from one and half hours and two and half hours.

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