The potential of renewable energy is not only limited to electricity generation, but also for a variety of applications (heating, cooling, mechanical and cooking) spanning across several sectors (residential, commercial and industrial). With the objective to promote and create awareness about renewable energy applications, WWF India and CEEW undertook a comprehensive analytical study (Renewables beyond Electricity: Solar Air Conditioning and Solar Desalination) of two renewable energy technologies, namely, solar air conditioning and solar desalination. Findings of these studies have been reported in this document with each application (solar air conditioning and desalination) being covered under separate chapters.
These particular applications were selected based on their large potential, but limited existing installation, attractive payback yet significant financing challenges, interested stakeholders, environmental and social benefits, and government support, but limited awareness and market research. Through primary survey and stakeholder interactions, the study highlights potential business opportunities in solar air-conditioning and solar desalination applications, analyses various factors or bottlenecks (technological, financial, market, regulatory and institutional), and lists a set of recommendations to overcome these barriers. Moreover, the study also tries to introduce readers (scientific as well as non-scientific) to the basics of these application technologies through a lucid description of various technical aspects (especially of processes and components).
Solar-energy applications like solar air conditioning and desalination have wide-ranging benefits. These technologies have high potential for applications across large parts of India. Further, solar technologies increases resilience against volatile and ever rising prices of conventional energy. With growing urbanization and demand for cooling, renewable energy application like solar air conditioning can play a significant role in reducing peak-load demand on the electrical grid, especially during the day time.
Though the variable nature of solar radiation is recognized, however progress on the technological front is being made to overcome the barriers, especially in terms of energy storage technology. Apart from GHG mitigation and economic benefits, solar technologies also have many far reaching and significant benefits, such as provision of basic resources in remote areas and creation of regional and local level jobs. For example, low-cost solar desalination is being employed by local communities in arid regions of India to get clean and safe drinking water at low cost. Thus, this study tries to identify areas of intervention and highlights major activities that are required to facilitate as well as accelerate large-scale deployment of sola desalination and air-conditioning technologies in India. The set of recommendations can possibly act as building blocks for future research, project implementation and policy interventions in India.
Read Report: Renewables beyond Electricity: Solar Air Conditioning and Solar Desalination