Energy is essential for economic and social development of a region. Dependence on fossil fuels has posed a serious threat due to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, dwindling stock of the fuel resource base. Among daily activities, about 80% of the mechanical work requires electrical energy. Dependence on the conventional energy resources for electricity generation is eroding the resources at faster rate. The process of electricity generation causes significant adverse effect on ecology by producing enormous quantity of byproducts including nuclear waste and carbon dioxide. Improving energy efficiency, switch over to renewable sources of energy and de-linking economic development from energy consumption (particularly of fossil fuels) is essential for sustainable development of a region. Green energy technologies have gained importance so that they are reliable and environmental friendly. Electrical energy harvesting from solar radiations is one such promising technology which uses photoelectric effect. Solar photovoltaic (SPV) modules directly convert solar radiations to direct current (DC) electrical power which can be used for various applications (or stored in battery) or can be sent to the existing grid.

Uttara Kannada is located in the west coast of Karnataka, India, receives an average solar insolation of 5.42 kWh/m2/day annually and has more than 300 clear sunny days. This solar potential can be utilized to meet the domestic and irrigation electricity demand. Domestic demand of the household in rural region is about 50 to 100 kWh per month and that in urban region is less than 150 kWh/month in Uttara Kannada. The solar potential assessment reveals that, domestic demand can be supplied by installing rooftop SPV modules, since less the 5% of the rooftop is required in majority of the houses and irrigation demand can be met by installing PV modules in wasteland where less than 3% of available wasteland area is sufficient. To estimate the fraction of rooftop required to generate sufficient electricity, rooftop area of a household in selected villages (chosen randomly, representative of agro-climatic zones) is digitized using Google earth image (http://googleearth.com).  Electricity demand in households is estimated based on the sample household survey of 1700 households, which indicate the requirement of 50-100 units (kWh) per month per household. Computed rooftop area per households is used to extrapolate for all the villages in the district.  Rooftop area required to install the PV module to meet the respective household’s electricity demand is computed. In the similar manner the area required to generate electrical energy to meet the irrigation demand in the village is determined. In most of the villages in the district, less than 0.5% of the available wasteland is sufficient to meet the irrigation demand.

Keywords: Insolation, Solar Photovoltaic (SPV), Rooftop PV module, domestic demand, sustainable energy.