Solar panels need to be kept clean to ensure optimum power production. Innovations in battery storage and performance are also necessary.
Technological advancements in solar cells and in other parts of the system like battery are increasing the efficiency of solar products. Be it a Tubular gel battery which does not need any water top-up or a solar pump set which can even run the existing AC motor of the farmer.
“Often, there are issues with off-grid SPV systems maintenance in rural areas due to ignorance and remote sites due to less control. If the battery gets neglected, the performance levels drop and finally leads to early death of the battery. During sun-less days, batteries get discharged but not charged. These conditions result in battery operating in Partial State of Charge (PSOC), cycling and deep-cycling. Moreover, remote solar installations make water top-up also difficult and costs money.
“The tubular gel battery helps people to overcome this situation. This doesn’t need regular maintenance like pouring water in battery. Even, these batteries can withstand high temperatures unlike other lead acid batteries, when left in open areas. As of now, the cost of tubular gel battery is 15 per cent higher than other type of lead batteries. However, with increase in volumes and sales, over a period of time, the prices will become user attractive,” said T Venugopal, executive director, HBL Power Systems.
LED lights integrated with solar systems also yield a lot of benefits. These lights will be efficient and can be used for long time compared to normal lights.
“It consumes 90 per cent less power compared to incandescent lamps and 50 per cent less than fluorescent lamps. For instance, few people in the villages who simply rely on electricity connection for one or two bulbs have removed their grid connection by using the solar LED lights. They even started saving the minimum electricity payment,” said Kushant Uppal, MD and CEO, InteliZon. Usage of LEDs instead of CFLs as light source will bring down the size of Solar plants requirement to less than half.
Solar technologies are also immensely helping the farmers in rural areas by making water available at their convenience. “Farmers can now use the water pumping solutions, which can run both on AC and DC power. Some solar product manufactures may ask farmers to replace the existing AC pump with a DC pump, which is an expensive process. Even getting the service for the DC pumps is not easy.
“However, with this new solution HBL’s SUJALA, one can run existing 3-phase AC pump ranging from 1HP to 25HP with Solar power. The farmer can even change the pump from solar to grid, based on the need and requirement and can have required water for his farms without worrying about the power cuts,” said Venugopal.
Talking about innovations in solar street lights, he said, “Many of the street lights have a PV solar panel and battery connected to the street light pole. It is becoming extremely difficult for cleaning these PV panels and even maintain these batteries and there are also concerns with security of these batteries. The dust that falls on the panel hinders the light, and affects the charge of the battery. This will decrease the efficiency of the battery and subsequently effecting the battery life. The customers are also doubting the quality of the product by not knowing these facts.
“We have taken a tough stand not to sell for such street lights. We have advised a solution, where in we service the cluster of lights. The PV panels and battery are installed in one location, which is safe and easily accessible for regular maintenance and all the street lights are connected to this battery and panels.
“The country will also see grid-connected roof top solar systems with micro inverters which can meter the energy pumped into the system, where in each individual house can have a solar system on the top of the house and can supply the power to the grid and will get paid above the tariff levels for it. At the end of the month, the individual will be only charged for the units he used in excess to what he supplied. This will enable the industries and commercial establishments to have sufficient power during their peak day level consumptions. This technology, which already exists in Europe and USA, is expected to the country very soon , i.e even in 2013-2014.”