There's 50% less air pollution in Delhi and that’s boosting solar power generation

Delhi's landmark, the India Gate, during the peak of air pollution in last year versus a few days after the lockdown was announcedBCCL
  • The skies of the world’s most polluted capital are clearer than ever, and it has given a boost to its solar energy production.
  • Solar power generation in New Delhi increased by 8% during the lockdown period, which was a result of the pollution levels dipping by 50% during the same time period.
  • More efficient solar power generation means larger profit margins for solar power companies.
The world’s most polluted capital city, New Delhi, is taking a breath of fresh air amid the coronavirus pandemic. With offices shut down and less traffic on the roads, not only are the skies clearer, but it’s also boosting the city’s solar power generation.

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New Delhi's improving air quality comes with the added boon of solar an energy boost. With pollution down 50%, solar power generation is up by 8% expanding the profit margin for solar companies.

With the skies smog-free, the Sun can shine down in full effect leading to an 8% increase in the power output from installations in Delhi. The MIT study published in Joule notes that there was a simultaneous reduction in pollution by 50% during the same period.

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New Delhi's improving air quality comes with the added boon of solar an energy boost. With pollution down 50%, solar power generation is up by 8% expanding the profit margin for solar companies.

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“It gives a glimpse into a world with significantly less air pollution,” said one of the authors of the paper, Tonio Buonassisi. According to him, it shows how using more solar electricity — which displaces fossil-fuel generation — can result in making solar panels more efficient all the time.

Pollution levels dip
More power a solar panel can generate in a given amount of time, the better the cost-benefit ratio. The better the cost-benefit ratio, the more appealing it is for customers to invest in.

Comparing the data from the beginning of the lockdown on March 24 to the previous three years, pollution levels were down by about 50%. As a result, the total output from the solar panels increased by 8.3% in late March, and by 5.9% in April, they calculated.

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New Delhi's improving air quality comes with the added boon of solar an energy boost. With pollution down 50%, solar power generation is up by 8% expanding the profit margin for solar companies.

Cashing in on solar energy
For a solar power company, this can mean big money. The authors of the study cite the example of a solar company expecting to get a 2% profit margin from their solar panel output. If instead, they are getting 108% of their expected output, then their margin has increased five-fold from 2% to 10%.

Expected outputProfit margin
100%2%
100% + 8%10%

The lead author of the paper, Ian Marius Peters asserts that deviations are much larger than the typical variations that are usually notes — almost three to four times greater. “The air pollution levels in Germany and Great Britain are generally so low that most PV installations are not significantly affected by them,” he said.

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New Delhi’s toxic air and how one expat family was affected – sick children, asthma, a death, and a campaign to awaken city to pollution threat

New Delhi's improving air quality comes with the added boon of solar an energy boost. With pollution down 50%, solar power generation is up by 8% expanding the profit margin for solar companies.

Weather maps show how India’s Coronavirus lockdown is helping people breathe a little better

New Delhi's improving air quality comes with the added boon of solar an energy boost. With pollution down 50%, solar power generation is up by 8% expanding the profit margin for solar companies.

Shocking images of India's national capital Delhi breathing toxic air that is equal to smoking 33 cigarettes a day

New Delhi's improving air quality comes with the added boon of solar an energy boost. With pollution down 50%, solar power generation is up by 8% expanding the profit margin for solar companies.