India: Largest Solar Thermal Process Heat Application

 240 collectors of an installation at the stapler and hole-punch manufacturer Kanin India” Solar process heat is becoming more and more popular in India: The photo shows the 240 collectors of an installation at the stapler and hole-punch manufacturer Kanin India. These panels heat a 60,000 litre electroplating bath in the city of Ludhiana, in the northernmost region of India. The temperature of the electroplating bath is to be maintained at 55 to 60 °C for 12 hours a day.
Photo: Intersolar Systems

Responsible for the installation of the system, which is one of the largest solar systems in the electroplating industry in India, was Indian collector manufacturer Intersolar Systems. According to the collector's supplier, the system is thought to save 160 litres of diesel on a normal sunny day. With around 5%, the costs of the solar thermal system are rather small compared to the entire investment. As a result of these two factors, the payback period is short, too: It is estimated to be less than 2 years.

Sector Total installed collector area per sector at the end of 2009 [million m2]
Residential (80 %) 2.108
Hotels (6 %) 0.158
Hospitals (3 %) 0.079
Industry (6 %) 0.158
Others (Railway + defence, Religious places) (5 %) 0.132
Total 2.635

Share of the total installed collector area in India per application area. Reliable, nationwide market statistics with installation figures broken down by sectors are not available. The share of each sector is a rough estimation based on Greentech´s analyses.
Source: Greentech Knowledge Solution

According to a study commissioned by Greentech Knowledge Solution, a consultancy located in New Delhi, 158,000 m2 of the total installed collector area is used for industrial process heat. Hotels use another 158,000 m2 of collector area, of which nearly 50% is for process heat application.

Solar thermal is commonly used for process heat applications of dairies, industrial canteens, and in electroplating, the textile industry, the automobile industry, food processing, for pharmaceuticals, etc. The capacity ranges from 15 to 700 m2 of collector area. The solar systems save between 1 and 5 % of the fossil fuel consumption.

This text was written by Jaideep Malaviya, an expert in solar thermal based in India. (

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