Solar thermal industry seeks govt attention

By: | Published: June 14, 2018 1:19 AM

The solar thermal industry in India is miffed as it believes that the ministry of new and renewable energy is ignoring its contribution in the renewable energy space.


The solar thermal industry in India is miffed as it believes that the ministry of new and renewable energy is ignoring its contribution in the renewable energy space, though the country ranks among the top five markets globally for solar thermal.

There is scope to save Rs 5,000 crore annually by supplementing solar thermal with fuel oil, said the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI).

According to the STFI, the solar thermal industry in India has been growing without any financial assistance from the Centre. Yet, it fails to find a mention of its contribution. Solar heating and cooling solutions are a substitute for fuel oil/diesel. Solar heat is used in large public and private building as well as factories for cleaning, steam production, heating and surface treatment in manufacturing, and comes at 40% lower costs.

As per the Renewable Global Markets Status 2018, India continues to maintain its position among the top five markets globally for solar thermal. “Solar heat for industrial processes (SHIP) is a an upcoming market in India and we are placed fourth in the world. With oil prices looking high, SHIP will have a vital role to play in reducing dependence on oil,” Jaideep N Malaviya, secretary general at STFI, said.

The Indian solar thermal capacity saw a 26% y-o-y growth in 2017, the highest growth across the globe. With capacity of 2.8 MW thermal India was among the top 10 markets for concentrated heat technologies in 2017 along with Oman, China, Italy and Mexico. When it comes to solar water heating collectors capacity in operation, India was at number six behind China, the US, Turkey, Germany and Brazil.

India has used solar thermal across various industries and has the largest number of units using the technology, unlike in other countries where it is used in limited areas, Malaviya said. The Swiss use it in the dairy industry, Chile uses it in mining and in the Gulf, it is used for refining. In India, it is used in pharma, textile, food processing, textile, fertiliser and many more industries, an achievement which is appreciated globally but ignored at home, said Malaviya.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has not considered this contribution either in the grid-interactive power capacity or the off-grid/captive power segment, said Malaviya. There needs to be a special category for solar thermal if it does not fit into either of these categories, he suggested.

The energy demand of the industrial sector in India accounts for 189.43 million tonne of imported crude oil, as per a study by GEF-UNIDO. Of this, around 30 million tonne is provided by the therrmal energy at temperature below 250 degree Celsius and solar technologies can produce a range of temperature between 50 degree C and 400 degree C, which can be used in a variety of industrial heating applications and can supplement up to 5% of fuel oil which translates into `5,000 crore in annual savings, Malaviya said.

While there is 30% subsidy for solar thermal, the STFI said it needs something similar like the power sector has with its RPO or renewable purchase obligation.

The STFI has 28 members, who account for close to 80% of the solar thermal manufacturing in India.

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