It is not the searing hot deserts but the Himalayas that are the best location to power the planet with the Sun.  At least that is what researchers in Japan believe.

Zee News tells us that solar power generators in the Himalayas have great potential to supply large amounts of energy to China and India. Kotaro Kawajiri and colleagues at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan have concluded that installation of crystalline silicon solar arrays in less than four percent of the Himalayan region could produce about 3.1 trillion kWh of energy . That was the total electricity consumption in China in 2007.

Contrary to popular notion that hot deserts are the best suited to generate solar energy, the study concludes that some of the world’s coldest landscapes – including the Himalaya mountains, the Andes and even Antarctica — are ideal locations for solar arrays…(M)any cold regions at high elevations receive a lot of sunlight – so much so that their potential for producing power from the sun is even higher than in some desert areas.

It turns out that photovoltaic (PV) cells made from crystalline silicon function better at low temperatures. Output from a PV module in the Himalayas, for example, could be 50 percent higher than output from the same module in a hot desert.

The researchers objective was to identify the areas of the world with the highest PV potential. Their results found these to include the southwest region in North America, the Southern Andes region in South America, central and South Africa, Midwest Asia, the Himalaya region in Asia, the northwest region of Australia, and Antarctica.

“The framework we have presented show what type of PV module is suitable for different regions,” the researchers said. “These findings could help stakeholders to evaluate the potential for PV energy generation considering temperature in addition to irradiation.”

Although they have focused on temperature, the researchers hope to refine their work in future by considering other variables such as transmission losses, snowfall and the cooling effect by wind.

“We hope that this work will provide a first step to investigate the most suitable locations for PV energy generation in the world,” the researchers said.


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