Despite monsoon, it's ideal for Kerala: Dr Thomas Parel

Despite Kerala's seasonal monsoons, solar energy is effective.

KOTTAYAM: Copious sunshine is ideal for solar power in the country, especially in the context of the increasing global warming and climate change. Universities across the globe are investing in the study and research on ultra modern techniques for tapping solar energy. Dr Thomas Parel, Kottayam native and researcher in solar ‘photovoltaics’ in the UK, strongly recommends solar energy to plug the power deficit. Even UK with less sunshine owing to the high latitude and clouds witnesses a boom in solar generation. The reason: falling costs and government incentives

Despite Kerala’s seasonal monsoons, solar energy is effective. Cloud cover will certainly reduce the electricity generated by solar panels, but even during the rains there will still be substantial generation due to diffuse light after being scattered by clouds and reflected by terrestrial objects. Monsoon rain is intermittent and often sprinkled with sunshine. “Having a solar panel network over large areas throughout the state could help keep supply stable and average out dips and peaks during monsoon months”, said Dr Thomas.

Prof RVG Menon, pioneering promoter of solar energy in Kerala and former head of the Agency for Nonconventional Energy and Rural Technology, says cost factor is critical. This is why solar units are seen mostly at upper middle class and affluent premises. But it is beneficial in the long term and the cost is expected to come down. “Homeowners could opt for a system to connect the rooftop solar photovoltaic array to the electricity grid”, said Dr Thomas. New infrastructural solutions such as "smart grids" are gaining currency.

Other storage solutions that hold promise include pumped storage systems which might be ideal for a hydropower-rich state like Kerala. “Once installed, the system generates electricity continuously for decades with zero fuel cost. The lifespan of solar panels is appreciably long because there are no moving parts”, said Dr Thomas. The system of pumped storage is releasing water stored in elevated gravity reservoirs and turning turbines to produce electricity. Water is loaded in elevated reservoirs during off-peak hours.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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