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We Promote The Use Of Solar Thermal, Photovoltaics And Energy Storage Systems

Please enlighten us on the role of Bundesverband Solarwirstschaft e.V. (BSW - Solar) in the world solar sector?
With about 800 member companies, Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft e.V. (German Solar Association) is the interest group of the German solar energy industry. Forming a strong community of companies, BSW-Solar acts as an informant and intermediary between business and the political and public sectors. It represents the common commercial interests of businesses within the solar energy value chain. BSW-Solar exerts a decisive influence on creating and securing a suitable policy framework for stable growth, and thus on ensuring investment security throughout the solar industry. Our objective is to establish solar energy as a permanent pillar of a global energy industry. With around 35 partnerships with foreign industry associations around the world, we promote the use of solar thermal, photovoltaics and energy storage systems. Partner associations can benefit from 40 years of lobbying experience as well as cooperation in projects and support schemes all around the world. Flagship projects are Solar Payback for Solar Heat in Industrial Processes (SHIP) in Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and India as well numerous projects on quality assurance in PV installations in South Africa, Morocco and Pakistan and potentially Bangladesh.

What are the international activities undertaken by Bundesverband Solarwirstschaft e.V. (BSW - Solar)?
I would like to focus on the only project currently taking place in India right now – the Solar Payback project. We execute the project with German partners on the technical side, which the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy, the German private sector bank DEG (part of KfW group) as well the communication agency Solrico. On the Indian side our partners are the Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI) and the Indo German Chamber of Commerce in Pune. The project follows a comprehensive approach to involve product and component providers of solar thermal technologies, turnkey providers and engineers, financial institutions as well as potential industries. Within the last 2.5 years all those target groups have been contacted, informed and partially involved in activities. Especially the dairy industry has shown great interest and high motivation in becoming actively involved, which is good news. But other target groups have been more difficult to approach. It took us a long time to involve some actors of the financial sector in our activities. The project is presented on www.solarpayback.com and will add important features in the next months, especially an online calculator as well as a short market study for India.

What do you think about the India Solar Market? What are the steps that can be taken to accelerate the growth of the India Solar Market?
India has made great steps forward in the use of solar energy, both PV as well as thermal. For a country like India, solar energy makes very much sense since irradiation is very high and loads co-incide and pollution a huge problem. The national solar mission has set ambitious goals both for electricity and thermal use. Nevertheless, consciousness for quality is not very abundant and price sensitivity is very high – thus these reasons technology might have inroads on the reliability. Eventually very cheap systems might result to be more costly due to under performance or maintenance costs and this is a big problem for market participants.
This is something which we especially also see in the Solar Payback project. In India Solar Heat for Industrial Processes has great potential, especially in Food Processing and Dairy Industry which has a very good temperature range for affordable technologies. Other important industries with low temperature demand are textile, automotive and pharmaceuticals. At the moment it seems to be that these markets do not catch up speed due to problems in dimensioning and installation. In the project we are planning to include training activities as one of the last activities. Awareness raising is important but investors need assurance that costs for O&M can be covered and that the promised performance can be delivered for the next 15 to 20 years. So activities will focus on that in the near future. It was also difficult to bring the banks to the table, but financing is crucial, both for electricity as well as for solar thermal. Bank interests are considerably high in India, thus soft loan schemes or government guarantees that reduce the interest rate might be powerful instruments to further the use of solar technologies in India, especially if those are linked to quality standards.

How different is the Indian Solar Market from International Market?
As mentioned above the Indian market is highly competitive. In addition infrastructure might be an issue, especially for solar electricity since grids have to be available, utilities have to install infrastructure to control the production. In the whole value chain capacity building is needed to improve quality, which will be crucial for applications related to the production of energy for production sites and commercial applications. On the other hand India has big industry consortiums that could be capable of quickly entering the market. The very good mobile phone network guides the way for all sorts of smart applications and demand management. There is shadow and light in the Indian solar market.

Solar technology is moving forward all the time, Is there anything that you’re looking forward to seeing happen in the next few years?
Solar will become a commodity for all kinds of applications. Whilst solar thermal is the simplest form of provision of heat for all kinds of applications with a cheap storage medium (water) and usability for cooling processes, too, electrification, electrical storage and gasification to hydrogen will lead the way for a clean use of all kinds of appliances, including mobility. Electric mobility will be important but in combination with fuel cell technologies and not so much by the way it has been promoted with all electric cars. The future is sunny!

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