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Smart Grids for Smart Cities, Volume 1

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Erschienen am 6. Juni 2023
416 Seiten
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Written and edited by a team of experts in the field, this first volume in a two-volume set focuses on an interdisciplinary perspective on the financial, environmental, and other benefits of smart grid technologies and solutions for smart cities.

What makes a regular electric grid a "smart" grid? It comes down to digital technologies that enable two-way communication between a utility and its customers, as opposed to the traditional electric grid, where power flows in one direction. Based on statistics and available research, smart grids globally attract the largest investment venues in smart cities. Smart grids and city buildings that are connected in smart cities contribute to significant financial savings and improve the economy. The smart grid has many components, including controls, computers, automation, and new technologies and equipment working together. These technologies cooperate with the electrical grid to respond digitally to our quickly changing electric demand.

The investment in smart grid technology also has certain challenges. The interconnected feature of smart grids is valuable, but it tremendously increases their susceptibility to threats. It is crucial to secure smart grids wherein many technologies are employed to increase real-time situational awareness and the ability to support renewables, as well as system automation to increase the reliability, efficiency, and safety of the electric grid.

This exciting new volume covers all of these technologies, including the basic concepts and the problems and solutions involved with the practical applications in the real world. Whether for the veteran engineer or scientist, the student, or a manager or other technician working in the field, this volume is a must-have for any library.
O.V. Gnana Swathika, PhD, earned her PhD in electrical engineering from VIT University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. She completed her postdoc at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka in 2019. Her current research interests include microgrid protection, power system optimization, embedded systems, and photovoltaic systems.

K. Karthikeyan is an electrical and electronics engineering graduate with a master's in personnel management from the University of Madras. He has two decades of experience in electrical design. He is Chief Engineering Manager in Electrical Designs for Larsen & Toubro Construction.

Sanjeevikumar Padmanaban, PhD, Department of Electrical Engineering, IT and Cybernetics, University of South-Eastern Norway, Porsgrunn-Norway. He received his PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Bologna, Italy. He has almost ten years of teaching, research, and industrial experience and is an associate editor for a number of international scientific refereed journals. He has published more than 750 research papers and has won numerous awards for his research and teaching.

Carbon-Free Fuel and the Social Gap: The Analysis

Saravanan Chinnusamy1, Milind Shrinivas Dangate1* and Nasrin I. Shaikh2

1 Chemistry Division, School of Advanced Sciences, Vellore Institute of Technology, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

2 Department of Chemistry, Nowrosjee Wadia College, Pune, Maharashtra, India


Many consider utility-scale photovoltaic solar power to be an essential component of decarbonizing the Indian power sector and mitigating climate change. This technology is well accepted by the public in general surveys, yet often faces local resistance during project siting. This phenomenon is known as the "social gap." Using social gap theory from the wind energy literature as a foundation, this study examines the causes of and offers recommendations for addressing the solar social gap in Maharashtra. The study relied on 33 semi-structured interviews with citizens, government officials, and developers across four Maharashtra communities, each facing a prospective utility-scale solar project. Through thematic analysis, the study shows that the solar social gap can be attributed to both a vocal minority that dominated community sentiment and project proposals that failed to meet the community's standards for acceptable development. The gap was exacerbated by the presence of organized opposition groups as well as decision-makers relying on ineffective public processes to engage citizens. This research makes it clear that government officials and developers need to adopt practices that enhance community representation, process transparency, and decision-influence. Though decisionmaking strategies are not the only factor that affects community acceptance, implementing improved procedures could help close the solar social gap.

Keywords: Renewable energy, carbon-free fuel, smart cities, solar cells, communication gap

1.1 Introduction

Solar PV is undoubtedly a key player in the future of energy [1]. This technology continues to see cost reductions and is significantly contributing to new additions in generation capacity [2]. Utility-scale solar projects, i.e., ground-mounted systems that produce 50 MW of power or more for consumption by utility-users have a distinct competitive edge. As solar PV becomes increasingly attractive in the market, there will likely be a surge in development of large-scale solar arrays on what has been termed "subprime land" or land lacking one or more of the three prime requirements for development: solar resource potential, aesthetic buffers or distance from communities, and necessary grid capacity [3]. Maharashtra may already be experiencing this trend.

Additionally, there is high national public acceptance for solar energy; over 80% of India supports its development, although, as we have learned from wind, favorable survey results do not always adequately reflect what is happening in reality. There has been documentation of community disapproval of solar developments in southern India; one researcher has even identified the solar social gap in that area [4]. These utility-scale solar farms have been scrutinized for intermittency, aesthetics, socioeconomic impacts, wildlife hazards, human health hazards, and cultural infringement [5]. This response may provide a glimpse into what is to come as large-scale solar farm proposals expand beyond the Sun Belt. Therefore, there is a need to study how the deployment of utility-scale solar farms in unprecedented areas are received by the public compared to hypothetical circumstances, i.e., the unfolding of a midwestern solar social gap.

There are a limited number of studies that have examined the acceptance [1] of people living near large-scale solar farms or having experienced local solar development in the south. This may have been previously due to a lack of projects available to study; however, continued improvements are inviting more solar energy onto the grid which is creating new opportunities to capture the public's reaction. [6] were among one of the first to seize this research potential. They performed a content analysis of newspapers to understand reasons for citizens' support and opposition to solar projects in Gujarat and Rajasthan. My research will take a deeper dive into the Gujarat by using semi-structured interviews to examine community acceptance of and related decision-making processes for proposed utility-scale solar projects.

1.2 Objectives

The objectives of this research guided my inquiry and analysis to sufficiently identify and describe the various elements of the solar social gap. I attempted to set up the layout of my results and discussion to match the order of my objectives to demonstrate clear connections. The objectives of this research are as follows:

  • Determine public support or opposition, attitudes, perceptions, and values associated with utility-scale solar projects.
  • Analyze the solar social gap using [7] wind social gap determinants.
  • Investigate how governmentand developer-led public engagement processes address or contribute to the solar social gap.
  • Identify best practices for public engagement in utilityscale solar project siting to help diminish the solar social gap.

1.3 Study Areas

Four communities[8] in Maharashtra have been targeted to examine acceptance and procedures related to large-scale solar projects. The locations of these study sites are left unnamed to protect participants' privacy. Instead, I will refer to the four communities as Community A, B, C, and D. I also redacted the site-specific references (e.g., media sources, public records, project websites) from this report as a further discretionary precaution.

Site selection was based on what is already known about each community's public response to a solar farm proposal, zoning level, and estimated project size. According to online news articles and public records, Communities A and C have yet to report much, if any, controversy regarding their projects (Redacted 3; Redacted 4), while Communities B and D have experienced notably contentious development processes (Redacted 2; Redacted 6). Within both groupings, there is one township that is zoned locally and one that is (or was) zoned at the county level. See Figure 1.1 for a visual. This case selection was done to achieve a more accurate representation of the views on and approaches to utility-scale solar [9]. Additionally, at the time of this writing, these projects would be the largest solar farms in Maharashtra.

Figure 1.1 Matrix of study areas by zoning level and anticipated acceptance.

1.3.1 Community A

Community A consists of two townships, each housing less than 2,500 residents (Redacted 10; Redacted 12). Both townships are zoned at the county level. A special use permit was unanimously approved by the county planning commission to permit construction of a solar farm that will span over 1,000 acres and produce more than 200 MW of power.

Based on information from the developer's website, they worked closely with township residents to hear their thoughts and answer any questions that came up. They facilitated this discussion by hosting several community forums (Redacted 1). Overall, media accounts have claimed that the public has been receptive to this solar farm (Redacted 3). Even back when the project was first introduced to the area, there were few complaints from the residents (Redacted 5).

1.3.2 Community B

Community B is a single township and home to just over 2,800 people (Redacted 8). This area was formerly county zoned until the prospects of solar development were introduced. The county established a large-scale solar ordinance and a developer subsequently submitted a proposal to build a solar array shy of 1,000 acres on rural land primarily in Community B (Redacted 6). Many of the township residents were reportedly unenthusiastic about the idea of living next to a large solar farm (Redacted 6). Further, township officials claimed that the solar array was not in accordance with their master plan (Redacted 6). In response, Community B moved to execute their right to self-zone and created an interim ordinance that would temporary block any large-scale solar development. The township's actions caused the county to postpone consideration of the solar farm application [6]. The developer subsequently sued the township, and litigations are pending at the time of this writing. The proposed project will remain on hold until the township finalizes their zoning ordinance and settles matters in court.

1.3.3 Community C

Community C has an estimated population of just over 2,100 (Redacted 11). This self-zoned municipality unanimously passed a solar energy ordinance several years back and has since approved multiple utility-scale solar projects collectively exceeding 1,000 acres.

Both developers in Community C claimed to have used a similar public engagement approach as the developer in Community A (Redacted 7). Online news articles have not identified residents raising concerns or disapproval (Redacted 4).

1.3.4 Community D

Community D has a population of roughly 3,400 residents and is locally zoned (Redacted 9). The township board initially approved a solar ordinance from which a developer proposed a utility-scale project that would cover nearly 1,000 acres. However, due to some...

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