Air conditioning in India has not been common due to the extreme demand that it puts on a notoriously unreliable electrical infrastructure. But when you think about when air-conditioners (AC) would be most used in tropical countries like India, it coincides with the time when the sun is blazing its heat in the peak afternoon. Dr Upendra Kamdar, founder of Suryashakti Systems came up with air conditioning unit that is powered in part by direct solar heat. Because units often have to fit into limited space, the systems are small because solar PV panels and batteries are not needed.
The patented hybrid system works by using solar thermal energy to further expand the refrigerant coming out of the compressor, thus reducing the compressor load and saving electricity consumed by the system. Heat is absorbed from the atmosphere and also from hot air exiting from the air conditioning system, which is usually discarded as waste heat. As there are heat storage facilities available in the system, it works during night time as well and provides 48 to 72 hours back-up during cloudy days. The system can be effective in saving electricity consumption by up to 50% when compared to conventional air-conditioners.
Mr. Dinesh Kumar Shah, the owner of Vijay Stores, a World Magazine Subscription Agency from Gujarat, India, uses a hybrid solar air conditioner. The solar assisted AC units have been installed there for the past 1.5 years and have resulted in drastic reduction of the electricity bill. Mr Dinesh chose the hybrid systems because he runs air conditioning for 8 to 9 hours a day, and he was confident that he’d save 50% of his electrical use. He said with the new solar AC units he’s currently saving more than Rs 30,000 (Rs 15,000 per unit) per year. A price comparison of a 1 ton AC unit shows that the solar assisted AC from Suryashakti Systems costs around Rs 18-20 thousand (~60%) more than conventional units and the resulting savings as seen by Mr. Dinesh would mean a payback period of 1.3 years. The Indian Income tax law allows an 80% accelerated depreciation in the first year for solar systems and this makes it an even more attractive proposition.
When asked about the installation and maintenance requirements, Mr. Dinesh said that installation is similar to the normal AC unit. “The system is running smoothly and is in fact much less noisy,” he added. This system has also been installed in the offices of Indian Railways.
The latest development that this company is working on now is what Mr Kamdar describes as “100% solar ductable central AC system using solar thermal system and solar chiller”. This system can cool without the use of harmful refrigerants and also provide hot water for other purposes, resulting in a 99% reduction electrical energy use compared to conventional duct base AC. The system will be commercialised after he secures funding.
Since its establishment in 2009, the exhibition and conference have developed into the premier platform for the solar industry in India. Intersolar India, focuses on photovoltaics and solar thermal technology and has quickly established itself among manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and service providers as a vital international industry meeting point.
“India’s strong track record of technical success in every field that it has seriously engaged in, from wind turbines to car manufacturing, make it clear that a major player position in concentrating solar power is feasible,” the report states.
Jointly commissioned by the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Resources (MNRE) and the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the report was prepared by the UK based IT Power Group, a specialist engineering consultancy focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
“This report is an excellent example of how India and Australia can work together to address our shared need for solar power,” said Acting High Commissioner Lachlan Strahan. “Both our countries have good solar resources and we can benefit by sharing technology and expertise in solar energy. We will now look for practical ways to work with MNRE in considering the ideas in the Report.”
A formal launch of the report will occur on Wednesday at a workshop on Concentrated Solar Power Plants to be held at Claridges Hotel, Surajkund, Delhi, from 9.30am. Dr Ashvini Kumar, Director, MNRE, will be the special guest for the launch of the report.
The report was presented to the Secretary of MNRE, Deepak Gupta on May 13 by its principal author, Professor Keith Lovegrove, Head of Solar Thermal with IT Power and Solar Thermal leader at the Australian National University.
Gupta welcomed the launch of the report and its recommendations, many of which he said the ministry could endorse.
Funding for the report came from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) under its program to link government agencies and universities in Australia with their counterparts in India. (ANI)