Solar Off-Grid Applications and Products

There has been a significant push to incentivise solar applications and products from various states and the central government. These include incentives, tax savings, and government installations such as solar street lighting.

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Solar street lighting systems, home lighting systems, mini-grid and captive power plants, solar cookers, solar pumps and solar water heating systems are the most popular off grid applications in India.

Solar PV Systems

Off-grid solar PV systems can be of various types

Stand Alone PV Systems, Hybrid Systems, Residential Rooftops, Commercial Rooftops, Captive Industrial Solar Power. These aspects can be read in the Solar PV Rooftop Section of this report.

Solar PV Products

There are many other solar applications than rooftop plants, including solar PV to power specific devices and solar technologies other than PV to generate power. Some of the prominent off-grid applications are

1. Solar Street Lighting

Solar PV can be used to power street lamps at off-grid locations – this could include places such as parking lots that are near a grid powered building but don’t have their own power supply. Solar street lighting systems are of two types

  • Standalone – Each street lamp has its own solar panel and battery, making it a self-contained unit
  • Centralised – A common solar plant generates solar power that is fed to multiple street lamps in a local circuit

Many solar street lighting projects are initiated by the government, making this a viable option for entrepreneurs who are used to working with the government.

2. Solar Home Systems

Also known as a Solar UPS, the solar home system is a package comprising solar panels, hybrid inverter, and battery pack to provide power for a few home appliances.

A variation of this system is used in regions that are completely off-grid where the home system is a small solar plant with an LED lantern, small fan, and mobile charging point.

3. Solar Lanterns

These are usually a combo pack of a small solar panel and an LED lantern with battery that can be charged either with solar power or grid power if available. More sophisticated versions may include mobile phone charging ports, ambient light sensor for auto start, and even FM radio. A single charge can operate the lamp for 4-5 hours.

4. Solar Pumps

Solar pumps use a PV array to generate electricity to power the motor of an electric pump. These are used in farms and similar applications where grid power is unavailable and diesel power is too expensive. There are two types of solar pumps

  • DC surface pump
  • AC surface or submersible pump

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It should be noted that solar panels cannot usually be retrofitted to existing grid powered pumps as the panels may not be able to power conventional electrical motors. Solar pumps use special motors such as Variable Frequency Drives and the entire solar pump has to be purchased to replace the gird powered pump, making it a rather expensive purchase at more than Rs. 4 Lakhs for a 5 HP pump.

Potential customers/applications for solar pumps include

  • Drinking water supply for small habitations
  • Horticulture farms, orchards, vineyards, gardens and nurseries
  • Agro forestry and plantations
  • Dairy, poultry and sheep farm
  • Aqua culture, fish farming

5. Emerging Solar PV Applications and Products

The important solar products that have reached a degree of commercial level of business have been elaborated in the sections above. However, for the multitude of possibilities that are in offer from off grid solar sector, there is a definite possibility to cater to diverse energy needs for decentralized applications. Some of the emerging niche areas in the off grid solar market has been listed below.

Portable Solar Power Supply Products

  • Mobile Phone Charger
  • Small General Purpose Battery Charger
  • Portable Panel Power Unit

Popular Lighting Products

  • Lights for Public Streets
    • Lamp Post Illuminations (Art Lights)
  • Torches and Lanterns
    • Torch
    • Table Lamps
    • Key Ring Light

Traffic Lights, Signs, Safety, etc.

  • Road
    • Traffic Signs and Lights
    • Traffic Studs

Related Article

1. Market Status of Offgrid Solar Products in India
2. Drivers of Off-grid Solar Market Growth in India
3. Government Initiatives/ Programs to Support Off-Grid Renewable Energy Deployment in India
4. Ways to Identify Other Potential and Attractive Off-grid Segments
5. Business Opportunities in Diverse Off-grid Applications
6. Solar Thermal – Products and its Market Status