Published on January 19th, 2015 | by Glenn Meyers


CSP Solar-Biomass Model In India

January 19th, 2015 by  

The solar-biomass model may prove to be optimal solutions when it comes to developing renewable solar energy power plants that can dependably distribute power on an ongoing basis.

This might be especially true in India, where coal power, a leading emitter of CO2, remains a leader in providing electricity.

shutterstock_96405053As reported by CSP Today, last month India’s Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) announced plans to build a 3 MW CSP-biomass power plant in the village of Barunr.

This hybrid CSP project looks interesting and, if successful, will elevate the fortunes of renewable energy and CSP in India. Called SCOPEBIG (Scalable CSP Optimised Power Plant Engineered with Biomass Integrated Gasification), the hybrid project is being set up under the EU-India Cooperation on Renewable Energy with a commitment of around €8 million.

Other CSP and biomass pioneers include Israeli-based AORA Solar, with niche 24/7 power plant projects existing in Spain, Israel, the United States, with a soon-to-be-announced plant in Ethiopia.

As for the developing the gasifier technology, expertise will come from the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands and from the 250kW plant sponsored by India’s Department of Science and Technology and built by Thermax near Pune.

Among the priorities of the project is to use low-cost solar collectors and to localize all of the components, of which the latter would make the power plant a first of its kind in India.

“The components used in this plant, in both the CSP and biomass island will be completely indigenously manufactured,” Dr. R. R. Sonde, executive vice president of research, technology & innovation at Thermax, said during the inauguration event.

Specific to the India project, biomass is abundant in India, especially in Bihar, yet large quantities remain untapped. The MNRE estimates that the country produces 500 million metric tons of biomass annually but 120 to 150 million tons remain unused.

With the construction of the SCOPEBIG project might demonstrate the viability of CSP-biomass plants at a smaller scale for replication across India, while studying the social effect on rural areas.

Photo credit: Central tower solar thermal concentration via Shutterstock 

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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

  • Joginder Singh Kular

    CSP Solar-Biomass can solve the Indian Energy problems on long term basis and also protect the Environment from the burning of Biomass by the farmers.

  • Martin

    I guess the whole reason for the two to be combined, is that for the solar part the “fuel'” is free and will be there for several million years.

  • JamesWimberley

    What is the point of combining the two technologies? SFIK there is no actual technical link, the plants just share a site. The idea is presumably to use the biomass plant as a despatchable to complement the variable solar. Is this really cheaper than the standard hot salt storage with CSP?

    • Gary

      Despatchable biomass/biogas generation is far cheaper than long-term storage.

    • Larmion

      I’m not sure this is what’s happening here, but I have seen hybrid designs where everything from the steam generator onwards was shared between both inputs.

      Heat is supplied by either the CSP part or the gas/biomass burner. From then onwards, all parts are shared: the steam generating unit, the turbine, the cooling system,…

      This obviously cuts costs: less equipment needed, less land needed and fewer parts to maintian.

      So there is a technical link between both technologies. Whether this ‘flex fuel’ arrangement works out cheaper than molten salt storage I don’t know. But the biomass part provides local farmers with an extra income stream, thereby chiming well with the ‘make work’ programmes of the Indian government.

    • Kevin McKinney

      If you link through to the underlying article (“CSP Today”), 3rd paragraph, you’ll find a discussion of the merits. Surprisingly to me, quality of the insolation resource is an issue (albeit a disputed one.)

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