Solar Payback Study Identifies India as potential Solar Process Heat Market


The three-year international “Solar Payback” study project started in January 2017 in India, which aimed to increase the use of solar heat for industrial processes (SHIP) has been successfully completed.

The study reveals that much of the industrial process heating requires only low to medium temperatures of below 400°C. Considering the heat demand in selected industry segments, the report identified dairy processing, food processing and beverages, automotive components, textiles, chemicals and pharmaceuticals as relevant industry sectors to use industrial solar heat.

For every 3 million m² of the installed area of solar heat systems, the annual diesel saved will be 20 million litres on a continuous basis and about 55,000 tons of CO2 annually. Dairy processing alone can fulfil this target considering India is the world’s largest producer of milk and dairy products. This is especially true in states with high irradiation, such as in the north western and central states, where heat can be supplied on a decentralised level. Suitable technologies for solar process heat are either flat plate collectors, concentrating dishes or vacuum tube collectors with compound parabolic concentrators.

The study further suggests an aggressive target be set as a part of the National Solar Mission if India needs to reduce its dependence on imported fuel oil. One suggested policy measure is a certain percentage of Renewable Heat Obligation in the identified industries, which will act as a driver and accelerate the SHIP projects. India has an already established industry of solar thermal companies and suppliers that have installed more than 35,000 m² of plants for SHIP. To overcome the challenge of high capital investment “Make in India“ may perhaps lessen the burden.

Capital cost reduction and cheaper storage will need to be addressed as future strategies in order to make SHIP commercially attractive. Solar Payback Project illustrates market niches as well as applications in identified industries and provides a methodology as a basic tool to facilitate the economic calculation of SHIP projects.

Solar Payback in India is teamed by the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI) and the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC), supported by Indo-German Energy Forum support Office and funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment under the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The report can be downloaded here.