Intersolar India- Day 3

(This post originally appeared on EAI Blog – It was contributed by Madhavan Nampoothiri, Founder & Director of RESolve Energy Consultants on 17 December 2010.)
Welcome to my fourth and final post on the Intersolar India conference and Exhibition held in Mumbai between 13 and 16 December, 2010. My blogs on the Day 1 and Day 2  of the conference is available at
Day 1, Part 1
Day 1, Part 2
Day 2
Like Day 2, the final day was also a half day affair. The 3rd Day was fully dedicated to PV Technologies. Five sessions were scheduled for the day and some of the sessions were parallel events. Even though I wanted to attend all the sessions, I had to skip the following :
1.       Balance of Systems(BoS) – Innovative solutions
2.       Quality Issues – Construction and Project management
The first session I attended was “Large –Scale  PV Systems”. The first speaker of the session was Mr. Inderpreet Wadhwa, CEO, Azure Power India Pvt.Ltd., India.  He started off the topic “ Grid Solar Power in India – Complexity to Simplification “by talking about Grid parity and he said he believes that by year 2015, Solar PV will be price competitive with Diesel Gensets(without government subsidies) and by the year 2020, SPV will be at par with fossil fuel based power.  He talked about the various stages of setting up a Solar PV plant. This included, among others,
a.       Project Development
b.      Financial closure
c.       EPC(DC  expertise)
d.      Logistics
e.      Power evacuation(AC expertise)
f.        Operations and Maintenance(O&M)
As one of India’s first project developers, he gave insights into some of the challenges he faced in setting up the plant. One interesting insight was that having canines within the boundaries of the Solar plant, security improved and chances of theft of Solar panels or other equipment went down.
The next to speak was Mr. Rabindra Satpathy Ph.D., President Solar Business, Reliance Industries Ltd.His topic was “5 MWp Solar PV Power Plant Performance Analysis in Indian Climatic Condition” and the example given was the project completed by Reliance Solar in Khimsar, Rajasthan. He outlined the various phases of the project development and also some of the challenges his team faced. For example, the temperatures in March-April 2010 was more than 47 Deg C at the plant site(near Jodhpur) and no work was possible between 11 am and 5 pm. In May 2010, there were Dust storms and high temperatures, which again resulted in stoppage of work. And in July 2010, there were heavy cyclone and the site got flooded. Other than this, he also talked about the 13 clearances the company had to get before completion of the project.
After this speech, I skipped the other speeches of the session and moved to another parallel session “ Testing & Certification, Training & Education”. I missed the speeches by TUV Rheinland India and Underwriter Laboratories, India on the Testing and Certification requirements for modules and power plants. I was able to be present for the speech “Education and Training on PV in India – How to Meet the Future Demand”. Prof. Pratibha Sharma, Assistant Professor, IIT Bombay spoke on the subject and reiterated that more than 100,000 people will be required to meet the ambitious goals of 20 GW solar installation by 2022 set by MNRE. She talked about the various policy initiatives by MNRE as well as by IIT Bombay to increase the output of skilled manpower in the sector.
After this session, I attended the session “PV Project Development”. There were 4 speakers in this session and the first among them was Mr. Ian Irvine, Technical Director, SgurrEnergy Ltd., UK and his topic was “A Lender’s Engineer Perspective of Solar PV Power – Technology and Project Risks”. He highlighted some of the Technology issues that Solar PV project developers have to watch out for when implementing a project.
The next topic of the session was “Performance Study of Some MW size Solar PV Grid Connected Power Plants” and it was presented by Dr. Padmanabhan Jayakumar, Director & CEO, Arbutus Consultants Pvt.Ltd.,India. His team had analyzed the performance data of 3 Power plants in across India, namely in, Asansol, West Bengal, Chandrapur, Maharasthra, Kolar, Karnataka. He said that their preliminary analysis showed that the actual power generation was much lower than the forecast energy generation. He said the amount of data he had was limited and the analysis can be improved by increasing the number of parameters monitored and recorded. His analysis included both Crystalline silicon based plants(Asansol and KPCL) and Thin film based plant(Chandrapur). The insights he provided were very interesting.
Next, Mr. Matt Garvert, Ph.D.,Director Training and Education, 3tier, US spoke on “An accurate Solar Assessment: The Road to Profitability”. He said that one of the challenges for Solar Project Developers in India was the lack of robust solar insolation data.  While satellite imagery from NASA and other agencies were available, there is no ground observation data of solar insolation. Even though the satellite imagery is useful as a long term recorded data, it is not very accurate and this data has to be complemented by ground observed data. He then explained some of the technical aspects of Solar assessment.
The final speaker of the session and perhaps the conference was Mr. Ravi Raina, President, Astonfield Renewables,India. He spoke about the “Opportunities & Challenges for Developers Achieving 20 GW Solar Power by 2020 in India”. He said that while the drivers of the National Solar Mission were (a) aggressive solar targets, (b) Governments desire to make India a solar manufacturing base and (c) high solar availability there were also growth inhibitors in the form of (a) cost of capital and (b) infrastructure, mainly power evacuation.
He concluded the session and the conference on a high note saying that despite all the challenges he is very optimistic about the National Solar Mission achieving its targets.
Overall 3 days well spent, I thought. Now it was time to go back to office where a load of work was awaiting. And also time to plan for the next conference, have to choose between conferences in Chennai(14-16 Jan 2011) and New Delhi(24-25 Jan 2011).