Generation of Electrical power from Solar PV system is not only dependent on efficiency of solar modules but also on cables that are required to harness this power for more than 25 years. While designing the solar farms, the system engineers have to minimize the losses up to delivery of power to Inverter and to the grid, to calculate the solar farm performance, since the solar developer realizes its revenue based on power delivered to the grid. Low quality cables can lead to higher losses and less power delivered to the grid. These losses due to poor cable system calculated over 25 years life of solar farm can result in substantial losses affecting the project viability. Hence the quality cable becomes an important component for solar farm projects and is an important aspect for bankability of solar projects.
The Solar DC cable used for connecting the solar modules is required to work in harsh environments (viz. direct exposure to heat and UV rays being exposed to Sun, Rain, Humidity, Dusty environments, attack by Termites and moss and sometimes physical damages by rodents) and expected to have a life of over 25 years complying various international standards like TuV, UL, EN etc. The cost of replacing a defective installed cable is quite high considering the cable cost, manpower required for reinstallation and system testing besides loss of revenue generation during that period. The price difference between the good quality cables and occasionally bought by price sensitive customers invariably is not significant and in fact offers lower cost of ownership spread over its 25 years cable life. There are few companies in India who have set up Electron Beam Irradiation facility offering high quality TuV certified cables thereby reducing the dependence on import of such cables. In fact one of the manufacturers in India has started offering Rodent proof Solar DC cables also. In the initial phase of Solar projects, the awareness about the long life of cables was not understood by solar developers, but now every solar developer understands the need for high quality cables.
India is fortunate to have high solar insolation with over 300 days of good sunny days in most parts of the country. The cost of setting up Solar projects has come down considerably. The solar developers are now bidding at between Rs 6 – 7 per unit compared to about Rs 15-16 per unit few years ago. The gestation period for setting up Solar power projects is quite low (generally less than 12 months) compared to Thermal Power projects requiring a gestation period of 4-5 years and for Hydel projects requiring gestation period of 6-8 years. India being a power deficient country needs this kind of quick gestation power generation projects to ramp up power availability till new thermal & hydel projects materialize. There is also an international pressure on all countries to promote green energy to mitigate climate change. The solar projects also offer a greener option having no pollution and save on natural resources. Keeping all these factors in mind, the Govt of India has set an ambitious target to set up over 100 GW Solar Power generations over 5-7 years. The Cable industry has geared itself to meet the requirement of cables to support this high projected business growth.
For more in depth knowledge on the subject please attend IEEMA cable and wire conference to be held on August 23-24, 2018 in Delhi.