As a first step while heading towards 100% renewable power is to make the existing "dirty" plants "greener". In other words, retrofit green technologies in these plants. The prime target is coal-based thermal power plants. I am sure there are many places where the incoming water can be pre-heated using solar energy before it enters the boiler. This will save a significant amount of coal and the cost would only be incremental. I call this "Hybrid" power plant!
Rajasthan's Thar desert can be utilised to generate Gigawatt-scale solar power using Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants. Cold desert regions like Ladakh are ideal for large scale PV plants. Rooftop solar (on retail scale) can be successful in big cities with Net metering concept implemented. In India, choices are many and with new progressive government the political will seems to be there. Since these are fairly established technologies and implementation models one is hopeful of seeing ground results over next 5-10 years.
This is a very encouraging news especially because the technology used is CSP rather than PV. Read the enormous potential that India has for CSP at: www.desertec-india.org.in
Dear Mr. Anupam Tyagi,
You have given a very good overview of current status of Renewable Energy in India. You have mentioned about the "grid-tied" solar power and about Integrated Solar Combined Cycle plant at Mathania. In my view, the Mathania failure had more to do with the "Combined Cycle" nature of the plant and less to do with the Solar technology.
The "Grid-Tied" solar power that you have mentioned is also known as Concentrating Solar Power (CSP). As you have rightly mentioned, there are a lot technological advances being made in CSP. This has resulted in lowering its cost considerably.
Conservatively, a 5x5 sqkm farm of solar concentrators can generate 1000MW of electricity. In India, Thar desert in Rajasthan is the ideal place for erecting a CSP plant. Thar desert area is 0.23 Million sqkm so you can imagine the CSP potential in Thar desert! Further, the solar heat can be stored in molten salts and be used to produce power after sunset.
DESERTEC is an organization, which has successfully proven that a small part of Sahara desert can generate enough electricity that can fulfill the current world demand.
DESERTEC-India, the Indian branch, is raising the awareness about CSP and its relevance to India amongst media, government, scientists, journalists and "common" people.
For details, please visit: