The new Union Budget that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented on 1 February 2017 proved the country’s commitment to renewable energy deployment. The funds available to the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) will increase by 9 % from INR 50.36 billion (around EUR 720 million) in 2016-2017 to INR 54.73 billion (about EUR 782 million). There have also been new tax regulations on solar-tempered glass, and the minister announced the creation of a development fund for the dairy processing industry and infrastructure development. The photo shows the inside of the solar-tempered glass factory of Gujarat Borosil Glass Works.
India has been witnessing renewed interest in solar thermal in the wake of some successful installations. Dish-type concentrating systems have the potential to generate hot water above 100 °C. But in many places, insufficient space or unsuitable roof structures are roadblocks to increased deployment. Several Indian start-ups have used evacuated tube collectors (ETC) with compound parabolic concentrators (CPC), popularly known as non-imaging collectors in India, for solar process heat applications which require medium-pressure steam at around 150 °C. These collectors consist of evacuated double-glass tubes with bent aluminium mirrors underneath. The CPC mirror guarantees that fewer tubes are required per unit area and over 90 % of the gross collector area is used optically. So far, the aluminium sheets for the systems have been imported, but one local manufacturer will start operations soon.
The new interest subvention scheme for Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) technologies administrated by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is now open for applications. The scheme has been developed in cooperation with the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) during the GEF-UNIDO-MNRE project, which focuses on increasing the deployment of concentrating solar thermal systems for process heat applications in India. “Technology providers or beneficiaries can use a short-term bridge loan at normal interest rates for pre-financing the 30 % capital subsidy that the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy grants for CST technologies,” explained Dr Anil Misra, National Project Manager at UNIDO (see photo). IREDA also hands out long-term loans covering up to 45 % of the benchmark system cost at 5 % lower-than-usual interest rates. The remaining 25 % are required as equity by the beneficiary.
In India, there are multiple indirect taxes levied on most transactions. These taxes are divided into those collected by the federal government and the ones collected by state authorities. At the beginning of August, the Indian parliament passed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which aims for a radical overhaul of the country’s tax system by merging federal, state and local taxes and turn India into a “single-tax” country. The GST is expected to improve the way business is conducted, make foreign investment more attractive and increase the gross domestic product by between 1.5 and 2 %. But the renewable energy industry may take a hit, according to statements from members of the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI). All tax incentives will end under the new GST regime, which is to be implemented by 1 April 2017.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has published new regulations on all-glass evacuated solar collector tubes and related storage tanks of non-concentrating solar collector systems. Indian Standard (IS) 16542 : 2016 describes the storage tank’s specifications, IS 16543 : 2016 names the ones for tubes, and IS 16544 : 2016 covers the ones for complete systems. To obtain the three new standards, a company or individual will have to purchase them at BIS. Once the government notification has been published, all three will become mandatory and require that each tube or storage tank should carry the standard’s mark in addition to the manufacturer’s trademark and the batch number or date of manufacture. A transition period is to be set by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The photo shows vacuum tube systems on the roof of a block of flats in Kolkata city in eastern India.
The SoPro India project has scientifically monitored two solar water heating systems for a year with the aim of presenting reliable data on system performance (see the attached PDFs). The measured 20 % solar efficiency would put the ROI between 2 and 3 years, depending on the development of fossil fuel costs. The researchers from German institute Fraunhofer ISE see new systems offering “good opportunities for further technical improvement.” SoPro was implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in cooperation with the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
It’s a delight to gaze at the glittering solar panels on virtually every roof in the Ladakh region in the northern Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir. The Himalayan territory enjoys more than 320 clear, sunny days each year and has undoubtedly become India’s leader in solar energy, as 40 % of its population is now using solar water heaters in their homes, up from almost zero per cent back in 2011. The region owes its success largely to the tireless work of the Ladakh Renewable Energy Development Agency (LREDA), which was the only renewable energy agency among the 102 institutions and companies presented with an award by the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy during an April 2016 ceremony. The photo shows energy minister Piyush Goyal (right) presenting the award to Jigmet Takpa, Director of the LREDA.
Piyush Goyal, Indian Minister of State for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, awarded prizes to 102 institutions, companies and agencies for their achievements in high-temperature solar process heat and cooking. The photo shows the minister calling on the manufacturers to share their innovative ideas and make India a unique place for the demonstration of solar process heating technologies. The Concentrated Solar Technology Excellence Awards 2016 ceremony was organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in cooperation with the GEF-UNDP programme for concentrating solar thermal and took place in New Delhi on 29 April 2016. This was the first time in the history of India’s solar thermal industry that so many awards were presented at only one event. Additionally, 37 projects from all over the country received sanction letters for the MNRE capital subsidy and GEF-UNDP support scheme.
The International Workshop on Concentrating Solar Technologies set a new record in participation: Over 150 delegates attended the event in November in Mumbai organised by the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) under the auspices of the UNDP-GEF project on Concentrated Solar Heat (CSH). Its highlight: the discussions with industry experts and programme officials, during which the industry stakeholders called for greater R&D budgets and a performance-based incentive.
The Indian industry imports 80 % of the oil it consumes for heating, boiling, drying or other purposes. The government of India has spent USD 112.748 billion in financial year 2014-15 on the import of these 189.43 million tons of crude oil. Solar thermal is seen as a key technology for reducing government spending and greenhouse gas emissions in the industry on the subcontinent. Despite being heavily subsidised, solar process heat installations are still rare across the country. Now, the solar thermal industry is calling for additional regulations in form of a Renewable Heating Obligation to speed up the deployment of solar thermal technology in the manufacturing sector. The photo shows a solar concentrating system on the roof of bearing manufacturer SKF Technologies in Mysore in southern India.