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Estimates vary ( in fact, there appear to be no official estimates of this), but it is anywhere between 10 GW and 25 GW.
What am I talking about?
I am talking about the total installed capacity for diesel based power generation in India.
In a country with a total installed capacity of 220 GW, 15-20 GW, or about 8% of total might not seem alarming, but listen to this: Conventional power generation at coal based power plants (lets call it utility power) costs about Rs 2.5-3 per kWh, but that from diesel costs Rs 17-20 per unit, six times that of conventional power.
EAI estimates that diesel based power capacity is used for about 30% of the time on average where they are installed. 15GW (a mid-way estimate for diesel installed capacity)* 6 (times diesel power is as costly as conventional power)*0.3 (portion of the time diesel capacity is used)/(220 GW*70% – the % time for which utility power capacity is used) = 27/ 154 = 18%.
So, we are saying spending on diesel based power costing about 20% of the total amount spent on conventional power. Suddenly, you realize that diesel based power generation is not just a harmless little thing anymore.
The more alarming news is, the cost of diesel based power generation is set to increase even further. We are looking at diesel costing in the range of Rs 75/liter by 2015, and power from diesel costing about Rs 22/kWh by then.
Real bad news for those companies relying on diesel based power generation for a significant % of their operations.
This is where solar, and its advantages over other renewable energy solutions, comes in.
Solar power is unique amongst all renewables. It is modular, and it has little need for maintenance.
The above two characteristics make it an ideal solution for distributed power generation, especially from industrial rooftops.
And a happy coincidence makes solar an attractive substitute for diesel gensets. Consider this: Who needs such backup power in a big way? It is the large factories that have significant loads and thus have limits on the amount they can draw from the grid. And what entities typically have large rooftops? It is precisely the same, large factories.
This is the reason a number of Indian factories are looking at having large solar PV installations on their rooftop.
I would not say all is hunky-dory with solar PV for industrial rooftops – there are both technical and operational challenges. But in a scenario where rooftop solar power costs Rs 7.5/kWh and diesel costs more than twice that much, is it any surprise that every Indian company wants to explore solar power generators on their rooftops?
EAI has published the only comprehensive report for this. Get to know more about Diesel to Solar Report from here.
Also: Check out an interesting site on solar: Suncyclopedia, the Solar Encyclopedia