Solar PV it is for majority of the developers, Investors, Entrepreneurs & stakeholders, thereby ignoring & depriving Solar Thermal systems of its potential & ability to contribute in the solar arena of India.
In the past I have written two Blogs on the Green Ashram & world’s largest solar cooking project (Click Here & Here) that has been the most viewed blogs till date and have been ardent follower of happenings at Muni Seva Ashram (the Green Ashram) and Shri. Deepak Gadhia who is my Mentor.
Solar Concentrator & Thermal systems are making waves in recent times across India & as many of you may know Shri. Deepak Gadhia and his company Gadhia Solar were instrumental in bringing Solar Concentrator Technology to India and making it a huge commercial success much before anyone thought of solar technologies.
Very recently a Solar Cooking system supplied and installed by him at Shirdi Temple in Maharashtra was covered extensively in an episode of National Geographic under its Mega Kitchen series named Shirdi MahaKitchen. For those who have missed it please watch the same on the below link
The Green Ashram has become sort of Mecca/ Varanasi for people who want to see and learn about Renewable Technologies and Sustainability and has thousands of visitors every year. Hundreds of students from Engineering Colleges in India and abroad visit Ashram to take ideas and learn from various renewable technologies installed and operational at Muni Seva Ashram.
Even Dr. Abdul Kalam our beloved ex-President visited the Ashram to see for himself how it is very close to full-filling a concept he is promoting called PUARA “Providing Urban Amenities in Rural India” and went back satisfied and has written of his visit and experience in his blogs, websites and talks about it in his lectures.
Ashram deploys and uses various renewable technologies not only to reduce its fuel consumption and reduce its carbon foot-print but also to show, promote and offer Renewable Energy Solutions to others.
Being a NGO Ashram could not have done so and thus the Trustee’s of Ashram have started a Section 25 company in name of “MSA Renewtech Foundation” to offer solutions to Industries, Societies and NGO and Government to share its experience and expertise and offers not just consultancy but undertakes turn-key projects too. They see themselves as Solution Providers and not Product Provider and one of their recent Project was Process Heating with Solar Concentrators in which 16 Parabolic Solar dishes of 90 m2 each were supplied and installed by a company in Delhi to provide 600,000 kcal/ hr. heat in form of Hot Oil (Thermic Fluid) at 195 degree Celsius. It is perhaps one of the India’s largest solar thermal project for Industries for such application.
Apart from this the Ashram has provided such opportunities and platform to many such other companies to install and try out their ideas and system.
Last week they have reported a very unique development and I am sharing the same through this blog.
Success of Scheffler Solar Concentrator in India encouraged development of many indigenous Solar Concentrators. Most of the companies worked on making the system more efficient and to achieve the same they went bigger and bigger in size.
Even Gadhia Solar had pursued these path and over years and kept on increasing the size of Scheffler Concentrator. When it started the first systems ( at Brahma Kumari’s Mt. Abu) the size of dish was 7.4 m2 each. The System at Tirupati Temple was with 10 m2 sized dishes. The 100 Ton solar air-conditioning system was with 12.5 m2 sized dishes and the System at Shirdi is with 16 m2 sized dishes. They had also installed a system with 32 m2 dish each for waste water evaporation. The Solar Crematorium at Ashram in making has 50 m2 Scheffler dish. Brahma Kumaris are installing a 3 MW Solar Power Plant with 750 Scheffler dishes each of 60 m2.
The dishes installed by Mega Watt Solution for Process heating in Universal Medicap Limited through MSA Renewtech Foundation has 16 dishes of 90 m2 each. A company in Mumbai called Clique Solar offers Solar Concentrator of 160 m2.
The logic was larger the size of the dish more efficiency it would achieve and cheaper it will become. If one reduces the area (foot print) needed it reduces the number of receivers (heat ex-changers that receive the heat from concentrators) and trackers which keeps on moving the dish synchronized with movement of Sun.
Here comes a new-patented solar concentrator technology !
A company in Mumbai called EnerSun Power tech Pvt. Ltd. took exactly the opposite path. It has got a Solar Concentrator developed through and with help of Prof Joshi and Prof Panse of ICT (Institute of Chemical Technology), Mumbai (Previously known as UDCT- University Department of Chemical Technology).
They have worked innovatively and differently and have come out with very unique solutions to overcome the problems faced by parabolic dish concentrators and parabolic trough concentrators.
To overcome the wind-load problems that every solar concentrator faces (larger the area more the wind-load) they took the route of developing Fresnel based concentrator. They arranged the mirrors in such a way that the wind passes in between.
The solar thermal technology is so exciting that Mr. Deepak Gadhia has been invited by Solar Cooker International USA to present the case study and share the work and vision and he would be presenting the same on 19th July 2015 at the meet of the NGO “Solar Cooker International’s (SCI,) HQ in Sacramento, USA.
Parabolic trough concentrator needed curved mirrors, which added to the cost, and thus by using the flat strips of mirrors the over came that problem too. In Fresnel Type flat mirrors are placed in such a way that they act as a parabola. Normally Parabolic Solar dishes require a receiver that is evacuated (vacuum) making it expensive and needed to be imported. The professors used a receiver which has secondary reflector at back and a glass cover in front and the back cover has air cavity so there is no need for extra insulation to reduce the radiation losses as air cavity acts as insulation.
To test and demonstrate the system a 34 m2 Joshi-Panse EnerSun CLF Concentrating System has been installed at Muni Seva Ashram on its terrace of kitchen of Athithi Mandir (Guest House) and the heat generated is used in form of hot water above 100 degree Celsius for cooking.
Besides working on Solar Concentrator Professor Joshi and Professor Panse on worked on Solar Cooking Vessels.
Conventionally Solar steam is generated and injected into the cooking vessel filled with rice/ dal/ vegetables and water or the steam is circulated in an outside jacket of vessel and the rice/ dal/ veg immersed in water gets cooked.
What Professor Joshi and Prof Panse did was that they have been able to develop is a continuous rice cooking system in which one can cook with hot water and not steam thus reducing the energy consumption by as much as 50-60 %.
Another advantage of being able to cook with hot water is that it is easier to store heat inhot water unlike steam which condenses and thus the problem of storing of heat to cook in non-sun-shine hours like evenings and next day early morning got resolved.
The biggest advantage is that it is continuous cooker where rice is fed into hopper and it is carried to cooking vessel by a screw feeder where solar hot water is injected and on the other end comes out cooked rice. These reduces the man-power and also people touching rice etc. is avoided making it more hygienic.
The System has been successfully installed and operated and yesterday the first potential clients visited the Ashram to see for themselves and left very excited.
The Solar Concentrators are also tested and approved by School of Energy Studies, SPPU – PUNE having a National Testing Facility for Concentrating Thermal Technologies (CST’s) with an average operating efficiency of 52% & with maximum efficiency of 57% !
Many Congratulations to Prof Joshi and Prof Panse for the innovative approach and solution and Messer EnerSun and its team and the Green Ashram and its team for coming out with indigenous solar solutions.
It is a Win-Win Solution and Situation. India reduces its imports of fuels and also due to use of Solar Energy the quality of air, water and Life improves. Being cost-effective and easy to use and install it may the technology spread. Sooner the Better.
For all those wondering & confused between solar thermal & solar pv technologies, all we can say is each one has its own benefit/advantages & disadvantages along with very unique applications for both the technologies and can contribute significantly to bridge the gap of India’s energy need and help India become self-reliant in terms of energy sector.
For pundits comparing solar thermal and solar pv technologies they need to understand the simple fact that :
“Chaman mein italaa-te rangaboo se baat banti hai,
Hum hi hum hai toh kya hum hai, tum hi tum ho toh kya tum ho….” 🙂
Meanwhile till we meet next time with more updates & info……
Solar Project Consultant – India
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