German companies, which have the largest solar market worldwide, are keen to enter India with their Solar thermal, photovoltaic cell and concentrated solar power products as well as facilitate transfer of technology through workshops and training under India's National Solar Mission, according to Mr Berthold Breid, CEO, Renewable Energy Academy, Germany.
Breid is in Kolkata at present, leading a nine-member German delegation, to promote renewable energy products and technology in the state at the invitation of the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation.
Cost is the governing factor in going green, points out Dr S P Gon Chaudhuri, CEO, West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Ltd. The need of the hour is to bring down the price of solar power products and German technology is accepted as the best in the world in this segment, he adds.
With the Government of India announcing a goal to cover 10 percent of its energy demand with renewable energy by 2012, solar power has obviously become the future in the country which houses over 15% of the world's population, says Dr Gon Chaudhuri.
The carefully calculated feed-in-tariffs fixed by the Central Electricity Regulation Commission (CERC) has for the first time made application of solar technologies economically viable in India. Germany, which has an installed capacity of over 6000 mw of solar power, can further help in bringing down costs of installing solar power and other renewable energy projects in India, according to Dr Gon Chaudhuri.
The Germans are offering products and technological support in industries like solar thermal energy systems generally used to heat domestic water supplies as well as heat detached and semi-detached homes. Unglazed plastic absorbers, used to heat swimming pools, air collectors used for drying agricultural produce and evacuated tube collectors used to transfer thermal energy to solar circuits are some of the other products on offer.
For India, a key German technology for making photovoltaic cells, would be extremely beneficial. This system enables sunlight to be converted directly into electrical energy - a blessing for rural electrification projects, if it is cost-effective. Small, decentralized power grids or mini-grids set up by using photovoltaic cells can supply electricity to everything from individual buildings to several small towns. West Bengal has an almost ready green residential project 'Rabi Rashmi Housing Complex' which is based on this technology. This was a high-end project, according to Dr Gon Chaudhuri, but costs can come down with German collaboration for other such sites.
German companies are offering battery-supported photovoltaic island systems to provide uninterruptible power supply for countries with unstable, overloaded power grids like India. A long-term cost-effective version of an off-grid electricity supply via island system would be a combination of photovoltaic systems with wind farms and hydropower plants, and if necessary, generators powered by diesel or bio-fuels.
According to Mr Breid, Germany is also keen on training engineers and technicians to manufacture and maintain renewable energy products and systems. A series of workshops and training programs for decision makers, who are in a position to implement alternative energy projects, have already been finalized under the auspices of the National Solar Mission and Germany's Federal Ministry of Environment. A conference on renewable energy will also be held in Delhi towards the end of this year to augment this effort.
With depletion of conventional natural energy resources worldwide, renewable energy is rapidly emerging as a solution for power hungry nations. With its National Solar Mission and ossible collaborations from countries like Germany, India is poised to take that leap towards efficiently and cost-effectively meeting its energy requirements. By Ajitha Menon (ANI)