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Solar PV

Solar Photovoltaic Programme ( R & D)
R&D projects are supported by the Ministry at research organizations of central/state government, autonomous societies, Universities, recognized colleges, IITs and industries etc., which have suitable infrastructure for undertaking R&D in solar photovoltaic technology. R&D proposals are scrutinized by experts and recommended to the Ministry for approval. The Ministry supports R&D on various aspects of solar photovoltaic technology including development of poly silicon and other materials, development of device fabrication processes and improvements in crystalline silicon solar cell/module technology, development of thin film solar cell technology (based on amorphous silicon films, cadmium telluride films and copper indium diselenide thin films, organic, dye sensitized and carbon nano tubes). MNRE is also supporting development of photovoltaic systems and components used in manufacture of such systems. The Ministry has identified thrust areas for R&D support in solar photovoltaic technology during the 11th plan. During 2007-08 five R&D projects are supported by the Ministry

R&D projects are supported by the Government at research organisations of central/state government, autonomous societies, Universities, recognised colleges, IITs and industries with suitable infrastructure for R&D and NGOs. R&D proposals are scrutinised by a committee of experts and recommended for approval. The present emphasis of the R&D programme in PV technology is to support improvements in crystalline silicon solar cell/module technology, development of thin film solar cell technology (based on amorphous silicon films, cadmium telluride films and copper indium diselenide thin films). MNES is also supporting development of photovoltaic systems and components used in manufacture of such systems. Thrust areas for R&D support have been identified.


Following is a list of some of the priority areas for research support in solar photovoltaic technology during  2001-02 Materials & Device 1. Development of crystalline silicon thin film layers and low cost substrates for deposition of films 2. Development of large size solar cells/ modules based on crystalline silicon thin films 3. Development of multi junction amorphous silicon solar cells/ modules; pilot plant demonstration 4. Development of process technology for polycrystalline thin film solar cells/modules; pilot plant demonstration 5. Development of devices based on new materials/concepts 6. Improvement in solar cell efficiency to  15 % at commercial level and > 20 % at research level 7. Improvements in PV module technology; higher packing density, suitability for solar roofs etc. 8. Development of light weight modules for use in solar lanterns and similar applications Applications 9. Improvements in system design for PV lighting systems, including development of a new design of electronics used in Solar Lanterns 10. Development of high efficiency inverters, charge controllers and power conditioning units. 11. Development of spill proof tubular plate lead acid batteries 12. Development of maximum power point trackers 13. Development of high efficiency and higher capacity motor pumps and water pumping systems 14. Development of integrated power conditioning units 15. Development of new PV systems 16. Reliability studies on crystalline silicon, amorphous silicon modules and other type of PV modules 17. Performance evaluation studies on Solar lanterns, Domestic lighting systems, power plants, PV pumps and other type   of systems for system design validation / improvements. 18. Development of solar roof systems and electronics used in solar roof systems. At present  3 R&D projects are in progress

Sl. No. Title of the Project/ Name of PI/ Institute
1. Fabrication of high efficiency Multi-junction Amorphous Silicon solar cells. Prof. A.K. Barua IACS, Calcutta.
2. Nano Composite Copper Oxide based Thin Film Solar Cells Dr. B.R. Mehta, IIT, Delhi
3. Design, development, installation and monitoring of 1.5 kWp PV system as an emergency power source in place of DG set Dr. J.C. Joshi, IIT, Delhi

Thrust Areas of R & D in Solar Photovoltaic Technology
In order to make solar cells and modules cost effective the global R&D efforts are directed to reduce the consumption of silicon and other materials and improve the efficiency of solar cells / modules to achieve significant cost reduction. Further, R&D is also undertaken on non-silicon based solar cell modules and other aspects of PV systems.  The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources has been supporting R&D and technology development in solar photovoltaic technology for more than three decades. During the 11th Plan period it is envisaged that the cost of solar photovoltaic modules can be brought down to about Rs. 120 per Wp.  In order to achieve this goal the key areas of R&D and technology development have been identified. Research, design and development efforts during the 11th plan are proposed to be focused on development of (i) poly silicon and other materials, (ii) efficient silicon solar cells, (iii) thin films materials and solar cell modules, (iv) concentrating PV systems, and (v) PV system design, with the objective of significantly reducing the ratio of capital cost to conversion efficiency. The following are the thrust areas for R&D support in solar photovoltaic technology:

Poly Silicon Material

i.       To undertake R&D to make poly silicon material using alternative methods (non-TCS) to achieve direct electricity consumption of 125 kWh/kg or lower. The process will be scaled up to pilot plant production, based on process reactor, which can demonstrate a capacity up to 100 TPA. The quality of poly silicon material produced at the pilot plant will be suitable to make high efficiency (>15%) silicon solar cells and the combined trace impurities of heavy metals, carbon and boron will be limited to ppb.

ii.      To design, develop and demonstrate at pilot plant scale (about 100 TPA) poly silicon deposition reactors, based on traditional poly silicon deposition methods, to reduce the energy consumption to less than 125 kWh/kg of poly silicon material produced, with the combined trace impurities of heavy metals, carbon and boron limited to ppb level.

Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells & Modules

1.  To reduce the direct consumption of silicon wafer (3 gm per Wp) in commercial production by reducing the wafer thickness and increasing the efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cell to average 18% and more. 2.  To develop and produce multi crystalline silicon ingots / wafers and produce solar cells with conversion efficiency of 17% and more in commercial production. 3.  To undertake R&D on alternative device structures to make crystalline silicon solar cells to demonstrate very high efficiency (22-24% on small size laboratory devices) 4.  Improving the effective PV module life to 25 years and more, with total degradation within 10% of the initial rating under STC. 5.  Design and development of low cost, low weight, non-glass type PV modules with effective module life of 10 years of more, with total degradation within 10% of the initial rating under STC. 6.  Study and evaluate new materials for use in PV modules. 7.  To develop low resistance metal contact deposition materials and processes.

Thin Film Solar Cell Modules

Thin film solar cell modules have potential to reduce the cost of solar modules due to consumption of less material and energy in the fabrication processes.  Amorphous silicon thin film solar cells were the first to be developed. In the recent years pilot plants and a few commercial plants based on other thin film solar cell modules  (CdTe, CIGS, silicon) have been set up. It is proposed to take up R&D and pilot plant demonstration of thin film based modules in the country during the 11th plan, with the following objectives.

1.  To undertake R&D on different processes and device structures to make laboratory scale small area (2cm x 2cm) devices of efficiency >10% using CdTe, CIGS and silicon thin films.

2.  Development of poly crystalline thin film integrated modules (1 sq ft or more) at pilot plant scale using different materials (CdTe, CIGS, silicon films) to achieve efficiency of >8% and life of integrated module > 15 years)

New Materials for Solar Cells

In the recent years worldwide R&D efforts are being made to study new materials, which are easy to deposit and consume significantly less energy. Thin film modules based on organic materials, dye sensitized and doped with nano materials have potential to produce solar cells. However, these device structures are in the early stages of development. It is proposed to established R&D centers in the country to study these concepts and pursue research in these emerging PV devices.

  1. To study and characterize new materials to determine their suitability for fabrication of solar cells.
  2. Design and development of new thin film device structures based on dye sensitized (liquid and solid state) organic, carbon nano tubes, quantum dots etc. materials. The laboratory scale efficiency of 5 – 10% to be achieved.

Concentrating Solar Cells & Modules

Apart from the improvements in the performance of flat plate PV modules, it is possible to reduce the material consumption and lower the cost through use of concentrating PV systems. In order to gain experience on performance of the concentrating system and develop systems suitable for use in India, the following activities are proposed during the 11th plan.

1.   Design and development of concentrator solar cells (concentration ratio of 200 sun and more) and modules (efficiency ~ 25 – 30%) and testing of concentrating PV system in Indian conditions. 2.   Development of two axis tracking system suitable for high concentration PV system. 3.   Design and development of heat sink for mounting of solar cells under high concentration 4.   Design and development of optical systems to achieve concentration ratio of 200 suns and more, with minimum optical aberration. 5.   Development of silicon and GaAs based solar cells suitable for use under high concentration (200 sun or more)

Storage System At present stand-alone systems use lead acid batteries. However, with low power consuming LED based systems use of NiMH batteries is also coming up. One of the major constraints in battery storage system is the limited life of storage batteries. There is an urgent need to enhance the battery cycle life to get at least 1o years of operating life. Further, it is also necessary to develop non-lead acid batteries. In addition, alternative methods of storage, especially to store large quantity of power for a few hours would substantially improve the viability of grid interactive PV systems. Therefore, the following tasks have been identified for the 11th Plan.

1.   Development of long life (5000 cycles or more) storage batteries suitable for use in PV systems /applications. 2.   Development and testing of new storage systems up to MW scale. It should be possible to store electricity for about 8-10 hours, with storage losses limited to about 10%.

Balance of System & PV Systems

1.  Design and development of high efficiency (>50%) motor pump set of output power of 2 hp, 3 hp and 5 hp to lift water from depth of about 30 – 60 metres. 2.  Design and development of small capacity inverter cum charge controller, with efficiency of 90% or more, suitable for use in solar lighting systems including LED based lighting systems. 3.  Design and development of LED based PV systems for indoor and outdoor lighting applications 4.  Design, development and field-testing of inverters and grid synchronizing system components (peak efficiency >96% and part load @ 30% efficiency >88%,) used in residential grid interactive roof top PV systems. 5.  Field-testing and performance evaluation of grid interactive rooftop residential PV systems. 6.  Design, development and testing of inverters and grid synchronizing system components (peak efficiency >96% and part load @ 30% efficiency >88%) for large size (> 500 kWp capacity) grid connected PV systems. 7.  Field-testing and performance evaluation of grid interactive large size PV power plant.

Testing & Characterization Facilities 1.  Upgrading the testing and characterization facilities for PV materials, devices, components, modules and systems 2.  Setting up of testing facilities for concentrating PV systems 3.  Study and evaluate new material, device structures and module designs etc.

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