The solar industry needs to act proactively to ensure efficient use of water for cleaning of solar panels and justify the 'environmentally-friendly' tag, consulting and research services provider Bridge To India said on Wednesday.
The statement has come against the background of an advisory issued by the New and Renewable Energy Ministry (MNRE) on optimal utilisation of water by the sector for cleaning of solar panels.
"This is a belated acknowledgement of the increasing water risks faced by the solar sector...," Bridge To India said in a statement, and added that rightly, MNRE has refrained from mandating use of any specific technology.
The firm further said that it is common industry belief that solar modules require two cleaning cycles per month to reduce soiling losses to a level of 1 per cent.
However, actual water consumption varies widely depending on water availability, cost of water, location of power plant and level of environmental consciousness, amongst other factors.
"Around 56 per cent of installed solar capacity in India is located in arid and high water-stress zones, exposing them to a high level of water risk," it said. For projects located in areas with good availability of water, wasteful use of water is a common problem.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that around 60 per cent of solar installations use ground water, sometimes illegally, Bridge To India added.
As increasing number of cities in India are facing water crises, wasteful use and/ or illegal use of water is a growing concern in the sector, it said.
"The solar industry should act proactively to ensure efficient use of water and justify the ‘environmentally friendly’ tag," it said.
Bridge To India added that there are proven and affordable technologies providing water efficient solutions including anti-soiling coatings robotic cleaning and hydrophobic and nanotechnology based self-cleaning, amongst others.