Vice Chancellor of University of Pune Prof. W. N. Gade and Tarun Kapoor (IAS), Joint Secretary Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) dedicated a prestigious test facility in the service of the nation meant for testing concentrated solar thermal (CST) technologies at School of Energy Studies (SES) at University of Pune on 22nd July, 2014 and is the first of their kinds in Asia. A similar test facility has also been set up at National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurgaon. They join the elite list in the world like Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Germany; National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), USA; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia.
These test centres have come up at a cost of Rs.5 crore and is funded under the UNDP-GEF CST project. The work at Pune centre began in February 2014 and was completed on 22ndJuly, 2014. The instruments available for testing include complete weather monitoring setup, portable reflectometer, one specially designed thermic fluid based test bed and high pressure or steam handling test bed. These will be testing the CST systems up to 300 OC. The test beds are largely indigenous. The weather monitoring has a large import component.
The broad tests that would be carried out will be surface reflectivity of reflectors, absorptivity and emissivity of receivers, optical and thermal efficiencies of the CST technology under test. The test output will help a user to estimate the performance of the technology under the local environment.
Prof. Gade said “this facility on board it will help not only for testing but for research as well. Kapoor added that, when there were discussions going on regarding the dumping of ETCs in India, UoP came forward and helped in establishing test center to instill confidence in manufacturers and solar system buyers.” Dr. Avinash K. Singhal UNDP-GEF Project Director assured that through this facility test procedures and protocols could be fine tuned for standardization process.
According to Prof. Subhash Ghaisas, Head of SES, “The manufacturing activity in concentrated solar thermal is increasing in India. In order to ensure the consumers a quality product the need thus felt to set up such a centre.” The CST technologies are looked upon as highly adaptable technologies for Indian environment. A large number of manufacturers are coming with various designs and concepts. It is important to verify their claims independently in the interest of the users. The present test facility will serve this purpose.
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