Climate Change to Impact Solar and Wind Energy in India, Says Study
According to a study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, changing climate patterns over the next 50 years are likely to limit solar power generation in India and impact big wind power plants in particular regions.
Analysis of future wind and solar potential over India using climate models, a study published in Current Science last month, suggests that the renewable energy sector should improve the efficiency of solar farms given that radiation is likely to decrease by 10 to 15 watts per square metre (sqm) across all seasons.
It adds that seasonal and yearly wind speeds are predicted to decrease in northern India and increase in southern India.
To analyse solar and wind potential in India, the researchers considered future climate projections across the globe as anticipated by three internationally respected prediction models: CORDEX-SA, CMIP5, and CMIP6. Each model incorporates historical climate data to forecast future trends.
Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay, a scientist at IITM, said: "We have tried to show the difference between historical climates and the future scenario. All the models show an overall decrease in wind and solar power generation potential in India. Every model has its uncertainty, but we have used three sets of models to analyse solar and wind potential over the peninsular region.”
For CORDEX and CMIP5 analyses, the historical climate simulations include data from 1951 to 2005, while the future climate simulations are analysed from 2006 to 2070. For the CMIP6 model, the historical and prospective simulations use data from 1951 to 2015 and 2016 to 2070, respectively.
The study investigated two climatic scenarios, referred to as RCP 8.5 and RCP 4.5 in the scientific community.
In the absence of concerted efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the first scenario predicts a world with high greenhouse gas emissions.
The second scenario is an intermediate one in which emissions begin to decline by 2040.
The researchers grouped India into seven regions for individual analysis: the Gangetic plains, eastern, south-eastern, south, western, north-western, and central India.
Considering the fluctuating pattern of solar radiation, the study proposes that central and south-central India should be considered for the sector during the pre-monsoon months since the potential for loss is lowest in these regions.
“North-western India — the biggest solar energy hub — is likely to see a loss in its energy capacity,” Mukhopadhyay said. “With increasing pollution levels, there will be an increase in aerosols in the environment. This, in turn, increases the cloud lifetime. As a result, the cloud cover is sustained for a long time, which means that solar radiation will be reduced.”
As for changes in wind patterns, the study predicts a decrease in wind potential in certain locations and an increase in others as a result of global warming.
The power of the wind grows with the cube of its speed, meaning that doubling its speed results in an eightfold increase in wind power.
In the non-monsoon months, wind potential in onshore locations is growing, whilst it is decreasing in offshore regions. According to the study, a seasonal examination revealed that the southern and northwestern parts of India experience stronger winds throughout the winter and monsoon seasons.
Similarly, a regional analysis suggested that the frequency of high energy-producing winds will decrease in the future, while the frequency of low-speed winds will grow.
The analysis revealed that wind velocity would increase in the Gangetic plains and decrease on India's western coast. While there will be little change in the eastern and southeastern regions of India, offshore areas in the east will likely experience a decrease in wind speed.
“The southern coast of Odisha and the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu show promising potential for wind energy in the climate change scenario,” says the study.
Given that both solar and wind potential in India were anticipated to decline, the researchers estimated that the deficiencies could be mitigated by incorporating more farms and employing more efficient power producers than are currently in use.
Source: The Print