With about 300 clear and sunny days in a year, the calculated solar energy incidence on India’s land area is about 5,000 trillion kilowatt-hours per year, which exceeds the possible energy output of all of the fossil fuel energy reserves in India.
Solar power industry in India –
- As of September 2017, the country’s solar grid had a cumulative capacity of 14.77 gigawatts. Currently, generation of grid-connected solar electricity is about one percent of total utility electricity generation in India.
- The average current price of solar electricity is 18 per cent below the average price of its coal-fired counterpart.
- The current installed capacity of commercial solar thermal power plants in India is 227.5 megawatts. Proper mix of solar-thermal and solar-photovoltaic can fully match the load fluctuations without the need of costly battery storage.
- The government of India has announced a clean energy rollout trajectory that will require awarding contracts for setting up a mammoth 175-gigawatt capacity of solar and wind power by March 2022.
- The government is also working on a plan targeted at farmers to generate 20 gigawatts of solar power. By announcing the road map, the government wants to encourage domestic manufacture of solar equipment.
- In addition to its large-scale grid-connected solar photovoltaic initiative, India is also developing off-grid solar power for local energy needs.
Learning from Bengaluru –
- The city of Bengaluru in southern India has the largest deployment of roof-top solar water heaters in India, generating an energy equivalent of 200 megawatts thermal.
- It is India’s first city to provide a rebate of 78 US cents on monthly electricity bills for residents using roof-top thermal systems, which are now mandatory in all new structures.
- Another city, Pune has also made solar water heaters mandatory in new buildings.
Addressing the issue of scarcity of land –
The amount of land required for utility-scale solar power plants is about 1 square kilometre for every 40 to 60 megawatts generated. Land is scarce in India, and per-capita land availability is low. To overcome this limitation, one alternative being promoted is to use the water-surface area on canals, lakes, reservoirs, farm ponds and the sea for large solar-power plants.
International Solar Alliance –
- At the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015; an initiative to set up the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was launched by the President of France and the Prime Minister of India. The headquarters of the ISA is in India.
- An alliance of 80 countries, the ISA is a common platform for cooperation among sun-rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn who are seeking to massively ramp up solar energy, thereby helping to curb global greenhouse emissions while providing clean and cheap energy.
- The aim is for countries to work together towards the deployment of appropriate benchmarks, facilitating resource assessments, supporting R&D and demonstration facilities, with a view to encourage innovative and affordable applications of solar technologies.
- Joint efforts of the ISA also includes innovative policies, projects, programmes, capacity building measures and financial instruments to mobilise more than one trillion US dollars of investments that are needed by 2030.
It is hoped that such initiatives will help reduce production and development costs, facilitating the increased deployment of solar technologies to solve energy problems of poor and remote regions.