The Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-CMERI) has broken the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest solar panel, revolutionising the linked realms of agriculture and renewable energy.
The solar tree has a solar photovoltaic panel surface area of 309.83 square metres and was installed at the CSIR-CMERI Centre of Excellence for Farm Machinery in Ludhiana. The final solar tree constructed by CSIR-CMER has a surface area of 67 square metres.
With diesel accounting for 75% of India’s power output, a shift to renewable energy, especially solar, is urgently needed. Professor Harish Hirani, director of the CSIR-CMERI in Durgapur, explains how it all began. ‘We started with six solar trees ranging from 3KW to 11.5KW, which together generated around 50KW power. We then worked on the material and fabrication cost and started developing a single 50KW solar tree’, he said.
Citing the viability of the solar tree in the agriculture sector, Hirani added, ‘Farmers don’t need a roof to install the solar tree. It can be set up in the fields itself, and will not even obstruct wind. The solar tree will power integrated farming activities such as charging e-tractors, e-tillers and electric vehicle charging stations, running agriculture pumps and solar-based cooking systems and powering cold storage’.
A solar tree with a peak power of 53.6 kilowatts (Kwp) costs roughly 2.5 lakh crore. When asked if farmers will be able to purchase such solar trees, Hirani replied that the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) will have to chip in and a public-private partnership (PPP) model will be required.
A solar tree is shaped like a tree, but its crown is made up of photovoltaic (PV) panels. The leaves catch solar energy and convert it to electricity, which is then funnelled down via a trunk and into a central battery within.