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Primer on Solar Power system

Simple Indian perspective Insolation in India, Photovoltaic conversion, Cell, Module, Panel, Array- Area exposed Balance of system components, Solar Home System, Solar Lighting, Street Lighting, Solar Generator

Insolation in India: An Energy Resource

Solar radiation is perennial, environment-friendly and well suited for decentralized applications. Most parts of India receive 47 kWh (kilowatt-hour) of solar radiation per square metre per day. There are 250300 sunny days in a year. The highest annual radiation energy is received in western Rajasthan.

The photovoltaic route converts the light in solar energy into electricity, which can then be used for a number of purposes such as lighting, pumping, communications, and power supply in unelectrified areas.
Solar photovoltaics (SPV) is the process of converting solar radiation (sunlight) into

electricity using a device

called solar cell.

Solar Photovoltaics

A solar cell is a semi-conducting device made of silicon or other materials, which, when exposed to sunlight, generates electricity. The magnitude of the electric current generated depends on (i) the intensity of the solar radiation, (ii) exposed area of the solar cell, (iii) the type of material used in fabricating the solar cell, and (iv) ambient temperature. Solar cells are connected in series /parallel combinations_ modules to provide power.

Basic building block for electricity from Light

Solar cells are made of silicon (semiconductors) Treated to be positive on one side and negative on the other. When light energy hits the cell, electrons are knocked loose from the atoms in the semiconductor material. If conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides, forming a circuit, the electrons can be captured in the form of an electric current.

Every single photovoltaic cell has small dimensions and generally produces a power between 1 and 3 watts and 0,5Volts, at the standard test conditions (STC) of 1000W/m. To get a bigger power and voltage, it is necessary to connect several cells among themselves to create bigger units called modules

Panel and Array The modules, in their turn, can be connected to constitute panels, called photovoltaic fields too, that produce the power wanted from the application. Therefore the photovoltaic system is a unification of mechanical, electric and electronic components that contribute to capture and transform the available solar energy, for the users of electric energy

The photovoltaic system structures

Systems with fixed inclination - (fixed supporting structure) Systems with active tracking - single/double axis tracking systems (characterized by step by step motors and control electronics) Self contained systems or stand alone Network connected systems or grid connected

Solar home system -1 A solar home system (SHS) provides a

comfortable level of illumination in one or

more rooms of a house. There are several SHS models featuring one, two, or four Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL). It is also possible to run a small DC fan or a 12-V DC television with the system.

Solar home system - 2 The SHS consists of a PV module of 18, 37 or 74 Wp (Watt peak) capacity; a sealed, maintenance-free, or flooded leadacid battery of 12 V and 20, 40 or 75 AH capacity; and CFLs of 9 W or 11 W rating. The system is designed to provide service for three to four hours daily, with an autonomy of three days, that is, the system can function for three cloudy days.

A PV module is usually mounted on the roof of the house so that it is exposed to direct solar radiation throughout the day, avoiding any shadow. The module converts incident radiation into electricity, which, in turn, charges the battery, which is placed inside the house. The battery provides power to the CFLs, and to the television and/or fan as required. A change controller prevents overcharging and deep discharge of the battery.

SPV Lighting Systems

SPV lighting systems are becoming popular in both the rural and urban areas of the country. In rural areas, SPV lighting systems are being used in the form of portable lanterns, home-lighting systems with one or more fixed lamps, and street-lighting systems. Applications in urban areas include glow-sign display systems on the streets, traffic signaling, message display systems based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and systems to illuminate advertisement hoardings.

Solar Lantern
The solar lantern is a portable lighting system. Being light in weight, it is easy to carry around and therefore ideal for both indoor and outdoor usage. A typical solar lantern consists of a PV module of 8 Wp to 10 Wp capacity, a sealed maintenance-free battery of 12 V, 7 AH (ampere hours) capacity, and a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) of 5 W or 7 W rating. A solar lantern is usually meant to provide light for three to four hours daily, and designed to have a three-day autonomy, that is, to function in this manner for three days without sunlight.

During the day, the PV module is placed in the sun and is connected through a cable to the lantern unit. The incident solar radiation is converted into electricity, which, in turn, charges the battery. A green LED light indicates the charging of the battery. At night, the lantern is simply detached and used wherever required. The battery provides power to the lamp.
The cost of a solar lantern with the above specifications is in the range of Rs 30003300. Low-cost models with smaller PV modules and battery capacity are also available.

Solar street lighting system

A solar street-lighting system (SLS) is an outdoor lighting unit used to illuminate a street or an open area usually in villages. A CFL is fixed inside a luminaire which is mounted on a pole. The PV module is placed at the top of the pole, and a battery is placed in a box at the base of the pole. The module is mounted facing south, so that it receives solar radiation throughout the day, without any shadow falling on it.

A typical street-lighting system consists of a PV module of 74 Wp capacity, a flooded leadacid battery of 12 V, 75 AH capacity, and a CFL of 11 W rating. This system is designed to operate from dusk to dawn (that is, throughout the night). The CFL automatically lights up when the surroundings become dark and switches off around sunrise time. The cost of an SLS is about Rs 19 000. Variations in the cost are possible on account of local taxes, additional transportation costs, etc. The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy Sources provides financial assistance for the promotion of some of the above solar lighting systems among eligible categories of users.

Solar Generators
A solar generator is a small capacity, stand-alone SPV power system based on (i) a PV array, connected to (ii) a battery bank and (iii) an inverter of appropriate size. This system is designed to supply power to limited loads (such as lights and fans) for a period of two to three hours daily in situations such as conventional power failure or load-shedding.

The MNRE currently promotes four models of solar generators, with capacities of 150, 350, 450, and 600 Wp. These solar generators are mainly meant to replace the conventional small-capacity petrol-based generators that

are used during routine load-shedding periods in

urban areas by shops, clinics, and other small