Rekindling the commitment to derive learnings from the global programmes and accelerate penetration of solar water heating systems in India under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), in association with Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and UNDP organized a seminar on “Solar Water Heating Systems: Global Perspectives”. The seminar had mix of national and international thought leaders gracing the occasion with their global, yet local approach towards Solar Water Heating Systems (SWHS).
Ministerial representation at the seminar had H.E. Mr Antonis Paschalides, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Cyprus, H.E. Dr Ahmed Rashid Beebeejaun, Dy. PM of Mauritius, Shri Sukhbir Singh Badal, Dy Chief Minister of Punjab, Shri Ajay Vishnoi, Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Madhya Pradesh and Shri Mahender Pratap Singh, Renewable Energy Minister, Haryana, where as Dr. Marianne Osterkorn, Director General, REEEP International Secretariat, Mr. Olivier Drücke, President, European Solar Thermal Industry Federation, Belgium, Dr. Preeti Soni, Climate Change Advisor, UNDP and Mr. Amit Kumar, Director REEEP South Asia Secretariat, and Director TERI voiced the experiences of the international experts and practitioners from various multi-national, bi-lateral and international organizations.
The participating ministers in the roundtable discussion gave interesting examples of successful replacement of existing heating systems with SWHS in their respective countries and states, as it has a number of learning’s worthy of emulation. According to them, it is relatively predictable and with technology and reach getting better by the day, the possibility of accelerating and sustaining the growth of the solar water heating market has become more viable.
In India, under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, ambitious targets have been set to ensure that there is wide-scale penetration of solar water heating systems in domestic as well as industrial sectors in India. The goal, therefore, is to achieve 15 million m2 solar thermal collector areas by 2017 and 20 million m2 by 2022. The MNRE is implementing a UNDP/GEF assisted Project on ‘Global solar water heating market transformation and strengthening initiative: India country programme.’ The objective of the project is to accelerate and sustain the growth of the solar water heating market in India through a combination of financial and promotional incentives, and other support measures, so as to conserve electricity and other fossil fuels, apart from peak load shaving in cities and towns; and to use the experiences and lessons learned towards promoting similar growth in other countries. The project will contribute partially and leverage the Eleventh Five-year Plan target through installation of 2 million m2 of solar water heating systems. This will result in GHG emission reduction of 11 million tonnes of CO2.
Solar energy, being abundant and widespread in its availability in India, makes it one of the most attractive sources of energies. Tapping this energy will not only help in bridging the gap between demand and supply of electricity but shall also save money in the long run. According to the government sources a 100 litre capacity Solar Water Heating System (SWHS) can replace an electric geyser for residential use and may save approximately 1500 units of electricity, annually, under Indian conditions. It has also been estimated that a 100 litres per day (lpd)4 system (2 m2 of collector area) installed in an industry can save close to 140 litres of diesel in a year. So also, usage of solar water heater to supply pre-heated boiler feedwater can help saving 70%–80% of fuel bills. Reduction of pollution and preservation of environmental health are some of the co-benefi ts of this technology. This is probably why the use of solar energy for water heating has become one of the largest applications of solar thermal systems today. Based on the abovementioned equivalence (100 lpd system saves 1500 units of electricity), it is estimated that in generating the same amount of electricity from a coal-based power plant, 1.5 tonnes of CO2 is released into atmosphere annually. One million SWHSs installed in homes will, therefore, result in reduction of 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 emission into the atmosphere. Clearly, SWHS is one of the most cost-effective, viable, and sustainable options available for hot water generation today.
Despite being in the market for a number of decades, SWHS still finds limited application in getting integrated in the energy sector. The reasons for this, as what came out in the discussion sessions, could be variegated with respect to the context and the sector it falls in, but they all have a common essence that is made up of one or more of the following issues—lack of awareness among potential users, delivery/supply/service chains (including ESCOs), availability of SWHS products and components, capital cost, space availability to install the collectors (especially in industries and commercial establishments), and efficacy of regulatory interventions.
REEEP International and REEEP South Asia Secretariat rekindled its commitment again to reduce barriers that are limiting the uptake of renewable energy technologies in several developing countries. By providing opportunities for concerted collaboration among its partners, REEEP aims to accelerate the marketplace for renewable energy and energy efficiency.