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Decreasing trend in Solar Radiation

Published: 3rd May, 2024

Context

As per a recent study published in India Meteorological Department (IMD) journal Mausam, the quantity of solar radiation available that can be economically converted by solar panels to electricity is showing an “alarming decreasing trend” in several locations in India.

Solar Radiation Trends (Key-findings)

  • Study base: The study investigates global radiation (GR), diffuse radiation (DR), bright sunshine hours (BHS), and the technical potential of solar power (Solar Photovoltaic potential (SPV)) using in-situ data collected by the India Meteorological Department from 1985 to 2019.
    • GR is high over the northwest and inland areas of peninsular India, while DR is high over coastal stations and extreme northern parts of the country.
    • BHS is more pronounced in northwest India but less in the north, northeast, and southern peninsular regions.
    • India’s SPV potential ranges from 1800 to 3400 W/m², exhibiting substantial regional variations. High SPV potential is observed in the northwest regions and southern peninsular India.
  • However, there’s an alarming trend:GR and BHS have a significant decreasing trend across most parts of India. The rate of decrease has weakened in the recent decade.
  • The technical potential of solar power has also shown a significant decreasing trend in most selected stations, emphasizing the need for more efficient solar panels to meet energy requirements from solar resources.

Challenges and Solutions:

  • Increased aerosol load (fine particles from carbon emissions, fossil fuel burning, and dust) and clouding contribute to the declining solar radiation.
  • Aerosols absorb sunlight and deflect it away from the ground, while dense clouds block sunlight.
  • Installing more efficient solar panels can mitigate the impact of reduced solar radiation.

Fact Box

India’s Solar Goals:

  • India aims to source nearly 500 GW (half of its electricity requirement) from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.
  • Achieving this goal necessitates adding at least 280 GW of solar power capacity by 2030, which is a substantial increase from the current 81 GW installed capacity.
  • The challenge lies in accelerating solar capacity growth to bridge the gap.

About MAUSAM:

  • MAUSAM, formerly known as the Indian Journal of Meteorology, Hydrology, and Geophysics, has been a premier scientific research journal since its launch in January 1950.
  • It focuses on climatology, particularly the troposphere, and covers topics related to monsoons and other atmospheric phenomena.
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