Researchers in Japan claim that the Himalayas have a large potential of generating solar electric power from sunlight that can supply energy to India and China. They also suggest these mountains could be more ideal than hot deserts for locating solar power generators.
A research conducted by Kotaro Kawajiri and colleagues at National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan, was published in the latest issue of American Chemical Society (ACS) journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The study opines that installation of crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar arrays in less than four percent of the Himalayan region can produce about 3.1 trillion kilowats of energy, which is was the total electricity consumption in China for the year 2007.
This comes contrary to the popular notion that hot deserts are best suited for generating solar energy. The study concludes that some of world's coldest landscapes including the Himalaya mountains, the Andes and even Antarctica are ideal locations for solar energy generation.
Kawajiri and co-workers say that renewable solar energy depends heavily on geographic location. As expected, the researchers found that many hot regions are ideal locations for solar arrays. However, they also found that many cold regions at high elevations receive a lot of sunlight, so much that their potential for producing power from the sun is higher than some of the desert areas."
The types of photovoltaic cell - that is made from crystalline silicon in use today can actually function better at low temperatures. Output from a photovoltaic module in the Himalayas as per the reseaechers' opinion, could be 50 percent higher than output from the same module in a hot desert.
The objective of te research was to identify the areas of the world with highest PV potential considering the spatial and temporal variation of temperature. The world was partitioned into 64,800 regions for the study by gridding the entire globe along 360 degrees longitude and 180 degrees latitude.
They found that regions with high solar irradiation values include the southwest region in North America, the Southern Andes region in South America, central and South Africa, Midwest Asia, the Himalaya region in Asia, the northwest region of Australia, and Antarctica.
The regions with the largest irradiation values have large PV potentials, the scientists said. The Himalaya and Southern Andes regions have energy potentials due to the combination of large irradiation values and low temperatures. Himalayan region is special attraction since it neghbours the regons such as China and India which have large future energy demands.
But possibilities of power generation in these regions is still a fancy in those regions. There are challenges such as transporting the PV system and increased need for maintenance due to the severe environmental conditions in these High altitude regions .