Solar trees to solve space problem
A few months after it began operations at two sites in New Delhi, the Solar Power Tree, a space-saving power generating intervention using solar energy, is performing steadily at both locations. Shibnath Maity and his team developed the solar tree at Durgapur, West Bengal-based Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), which is affiliated to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The tree generating 5 kW of electricity was installed at the residence of Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan at Tees January Marg; the other tree, generating 3 kW, was put up at the head office of CSIR at Anusandhan Bhavan at Rafi Marg. According to CMERI’s internal estimates, 25 units of electricity is being saved per day by operating the bigger tree while 15 units is being saved per day at the CSIR headquarters. At a unit cost of Rs 8, the savings per day per tree comes to INR 6,000 (USD 90) and INR 3,600, respectively.
In general, it requires about 3.5 acres of land to produce 1 MW of solar power. For any state in the country to survive on green energy, there will be requirement of thousands of acres of land. This is a contentious issue for a land-scarce, highly populated country like India whose abundant incident sunshine is not that easily utilised. This invention goes a long way to remove the barrier of land requirement.
The solar tree has several advantages. Apart from using four square feet instead of 400 to generate 5 kW, it holds the panels higher so they get 10-15% more sunlight in a day.
The placing of poled panels also make it possible to produce green power in rooftops, gardens, road verges and farms without altering the nature of the landscape. Placing a water sprinkler on top enables automatic cleaning of the panels.
Speaking of popularising the technology, Mineworth Engineering’s Sunil Maheshwari told, “We are getting enquiries both for rooftop and ground-mounted solar power plants. We have business connections with PSUs (public sector units) and are providing them with the option of installing the solar power tree for their energy requirements.” Mineworth is an empanelled channel partner of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) under the Grid Connected Rooftop and Small Solar Power Plants Programme.
The Indian government has set an ambitious target of investing USD 100 billion in generating solar energy by 2032, and a target to achieve five-fold increase in use of solar power by 2022. India has set a target of 100 GW by 2022, which is divided as 60 GW of land-mounted grid connected solar power and 40 GW of rooftop grid interactive solar power.