Industrial Sectors Promising for Solar Energy Applications:

Automobiles, Dairy, Electroplating, Food processing, Leather, Pharmaceutical, Pulp and Paper and Textile sectors were ranked as most promising industrial sectors for solar energy applications in a recently concluded study by GIZ.

Automobiles, Dairy, Electroplating, Food processing, Leather, Pharmaceutical, Pulp and Paper and Textile sectors were ranked as most promising industrial sectors for solar energy applications in a recently concluded study by GIZ. This study was carried out by PriceWaterhouseCoopers under the Indo-German bilateral project ComSolar funded by the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The ICI funds climate protection projects in developing and newly industrialising countries to support partners in building a climate friendly economy. With the ComSolar project business models for the commercialization of solar energy in urban and industrial areas are developed and tested through pilot projects.

This first India specific study highlights the new market opportunities for solar technologies. This study identified interventions in the industrial sectors which show a sustainable and commercially viable service offering. These interventions in Industries could substantially contribute to India's National Solar Mission target of 15 million m2 of solar thermal collector area by 2017 and 20 million m2 by 2020.

The study results were shared during a workshop on "Solar Energy Applications in Selected Industrial Sectors" jointly organised by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt of India (MNRE) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). This event was attended by industry representatives, technology providers, policy makers and financial institutions.

The study analysed industrial sectors based on parameters such as energy consumption by the whole sector; heating and cooling load as %age of the total energy consumption; captive power generation; number of units; dispersion of sector assets, and past solar experience in the sector. The prefeasibility assessment of top 10 sectors suggests a potential of replacing a large percentage of the process heat requirement through solar technologies. It is estimated that in the selected 10 sectors solar energy could replace 0.62 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) of conventional fuels each year. This amounts to about 8% of the total heat demand or 3% of total energy consumption in the selected sectors. For example in the electroplating sector, 50-100% of the energy requirement for plating baths could be easily substituted by solar-thermal. Similarly in most of the industries solar systems could be installed to preheat boiler feed water or used for drying operations.

The filed audits in the sample units of five sectors (Textile (Finishing), Pulp & Paper, Food Processing, Pharmaceuticals, and Electroplating/ Galvanizing) suggest the use of non concentrating solar thermal collectors for various applications which provide a good economic case, with commercially attractive rate of returns (IRR) and payback-times. Commercial viability of solar technologies is much higher for industries using furnace oil, coke or captive diesel based electricity. Industries which are using cheaper forms of renewable energy such as rice husk, introducing solar energy may not be a good option in the short term. Concentrating solar thermal technologies such as Parabolic Trough Turf collectors, dishes, etc. demonstrate an attractive economic potential, but the high initial investment costs, space requirements, perceived risks in making major changes to the existing production processes systems were seen by the stakeholders as limiting factors for these emerging technologies.

The response from the industry representative in the workshop reemphasised on the study findings on improving level of awareness among industry owners, need of more demonstration projects and targeted initiatives from govt agencies.

Mr Shashi Shekahr, Joint Secretary of the MNRE, complemented GIZ for the study and emphasised on developing Business Models such as Renewable Energy Service Company (RESCO) to tackle the challenges for greater uptake of solar technologies by the Industries.

Anurag Mishra,
May 2011

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