While wildfires are a bane for the people living in the vicinity of forests, they are also responsible for limiting renewable power production. A new study has revealed how forest fires lead to a major reduction in solar power production in India and affect the entire grid network.
Researchers from Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) in Nainital along with the National Observatory of Athens (NOA), Greece traced the factors that reduce solar energy production. Several other factors like clouds, aerosols, and pollution also limit the solar irradiance, causing performance issues in the photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plant installations.
Forests play a key role in limiting the power capacity of renewable mediums. The study has been published in the journal Remote Sensing.
“The findings of the present study will drastically increase the awareness among the decision-makers in India about the indirect effects of forest fires on renewable energy production, and help promote the reduction in carbon emissions and greenhouse gases in the air, along with the increase in mitigation processes and policies,” the paper said.
Scientists used remote sensing data for research and studied the impact of aerosols and clouds on the solar energy potential over the Indian region with extensive analysis and model simulations. They also provided an analytical financial analysis in terms of revenue and losses due to clouds and aerosols.
The team showed that during the study period between January to April 2021 the aerosol optical depth values were up to 1.8 due to massive forest fire events.
The energy production during the first quarter of 2021 was found to reach 650 kWh/m2 generating a revenue of Rs 79.5 million. However, the revenue fell by Rs 14 million due to cloud cover and Rs 8 million from aerosols that blocked sunlight.
“This analysis of daily energy and financial losses can help the grid operators in planning and scheduling power generation and supply during the period of fires,” the paper said.
The research was led by Dr. Umesh Chandra Dumka, Scientist, ARIES, with contributions by Prof. Panagiotis G Kosmopoulos, Scientist, NOA, and Dr. Piyushkumar N. Patel, Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, USA, and provided a comprehensive investigation of the impact of aerosols and clouds on solar energy production over the region.