Solar Photovoltaic
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Solar Photovoltaic

PV power systems convert light from the sun into electricity. PV cells are devices made of semiconducting materials similar to those used in computer chips. When these devices are connected to an electrical circuit and exposed to light, they release electrons that flow through the circuit, creating an electric current. PV panels, shown above, 19 are devices that contain a varying number of PV cells and convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. PV panels are typically incorporated into systems that combine batteries and electronic control equipment to provide fulltime DC and/or alternating current (AC) power. Typical applications include lighting, electronics, telecommunications, and small-scale water pumping.

Solar technologies convert light and heat from the sun into useful energy. Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight into electricity, and thermal systems collect and store solar heat for air and water heating applications.

India also receives abundant solar radiation equivalent to over 5,000 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. The government has had a PV program in place for over two decades, yet the current installed capacity is just 3 MW, only a small proportion of the overall energy mix. PV systems are promoted primarily for rural and off-grid applications, consisting mainly of mini-grids, solar home systems, solar lanterns, and solar street lights. The overall solar water heater potential in India is estimated to be 140 million m2 of collector area, of which about 1.9 million m2 have been installed in buildings and in industry.

India has manufacturing facilities for equipment and components used in solar PV systems, though there is a need for megawatt-scale PV power-generating systems. A number of solar thermal applications have also been developed in India, which include water/air heating, cooking, drying of agricultural and food products, water purification, detoxification of wastes, cooling and refrigeration, heat for industrial processes, and electric power generation. Most of the solar thermal devices and systems are manufactured in India.

In the PV sector, there is demand for thin-film solar cell technology, technology for megawatt-scale power generation, and improvements in crystalline silicon solar cell/module technology. Building integration for PV and solar thermal systems is also an area of opportunity.

India still needs new technologies. These include the development of polysilicon and other materials, device fabrication processes and improvements in crystalline silicon solar cell/module technology, and thin-film solar cell technology (based on amorphous silicon films; cadmium telluride films and copper indium diselenide thin films; and organic, dyesensitized, and carbon nano tubes). There is also a need for megawatt-scale solar PV power-generating systems.

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