SOLAR RADIATION (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env & Eco)

News-CRUX-10     27th April 2024        

Context: Scientists at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) recently analyzed that several locations in India are experiencing an "alarming decreasing trend" in the quantity of solar radiation economically convertible to electricity by solar panels.

Solar Radiation

  • Definition: Also known as the solar resource or sunlight, encompasses the electromagnetic radiation emanating from the sun.
  • Energy Conversion: Various technologies can capture solar radiation and convert it into practical energy forms, including heat and electricity.
  • India's Largest Solar Parks: The largest solar parks in India are situated in the north-west region, particularly in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • Decrease in Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) Potential: Cities in Gujarat and Rajasthan are experiencing a decrease in solar photovoltaic potential despite being home to large solar parks.
  • Current Solar Power Capacity: India's installed solar power capacity stands at approximately 81 GW, equivalent to 17% of the total installed electricity capacity.
  • Renewable Energy Plans: India aims to source about 500 GW, nearly half of its electricity requirement, from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
  • Solar Power Targets: India's goal includes achieving at least 280 GW of solar power capacity by 2030, requiring an annual addition of at least 40 GW of solar capacity until that year.

Analysis of Study

  • Study Scope: The scientists analyzed radiation trends at 45 in-house stations equipped with instruments for measuring solar radiation.
  • Focus on SPV Potential: The study primarily focused on changes in Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) potential.

o SPV potential refers to the amount of radiation practically available for conversion to electricity by solar panels.

  • Geographical Coverage: The stations included in the analysis spanned various regions such as Ahmedabad, Chennai, Goa, Jodhpur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Nagpur, New Delhi, Pune, Shillong, Thiruvananthapuram, and Vishakhapatnam.
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