India has been seeing a good thrust of development in the Solar PV sector in the recent years, thanks to the Indian Governments quest to generate 20 GW by 2022. Lately, the Solar PV sector has seen a few troughs and crests. Price of Solar PV has been spiralling down whereas land prices have been shooting up. While the price of PV panels is falling day by day, the price of land and its availability are constraints in the development of solar power.
A few scientists of Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute (GERMI) may have found a noteworthy solution. They wish to transform all major highways as “Solar Highways”. The paper that is now awaiting government approval was published in the International Journal of Energy, Environment and Engineering.
“While the price of PV panels is falling day by day, the price of land and its availability are constraints in the development of solar power, especially in India,” says Tirumalachetty Harinarayana, director of GERMI and one of the authors of the paper.
The proposal by Harinarayana and co-worker Pragya Sharma is based on case studies they carried out on two highways passing through Gujarat, using computer simulation.
They estimate that a PV roof cover over the four-lane (205 km) Ahmedabad-Rajkot highway can generate 104 MW of power while the Ahmedabad-Vadodara national highway (93 km), can generate 61 MW of electricity.
“We can suggest that the same concept can be extended for use on the 52,584 km long national and state highways in India with four lanes or more,” the scientists said.
The four-lane 5,839 km Golden Quadrilateral Highway, for example, connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, can potentially generate 4,418 MW of power while the North-South-East-West Corridor highway of 7,300 KM connecting Srinagar, Kanyakumari, Porbandar and Silchar has 5,524 MW capacity of power generation.
Tthe solar highway concept has the potential for large-scale generation of electricity with grid connectivity in short time and also reaching the goals that the Government has set for itself. The two major highways, Golden Quadrilateral Highway and North-South-East-West Corridor highway has a potential of 10 GW of electricity.
The scientists also believe that having a roof over the highway has a potential to harvest rainwater. Its success could also be replicated on the 115,000 km (71,000 mi) Indian Rail network!
Can the government expedite the process of execution considering that this will not only provide more renewable electricity to the grid but also conserve cash reserves from high imports of coal and fuel? On an afterthought, this can be a tremendous support system for the US $4 b grant that the Indian Government is providing to develop the EV market in the country. Seeing 6 million EVs by the year 2020 is surely a dream but achievable.