The emerging solar landscape in India
Solar energy is considered as the most abundant energy resource on this planet. The basic science behind the creation of solar energy is that the Hydrogen atoms in the Sun’s core combine to form Helium which generates energy through the process of nuclear fusion. Then it can be trapped and used as a renewable energy source which is very helpful for society towards a clean energy future.
Performance of India –
- In 2010, the total installed solar capacity in India was only 10 MW while in 2016, the installed capacity rose to 6000 MW in just 6 years. As of March 2019, it rose to 30 GW, a fivefold increase in just 3 years. This clearly shows that in recent years India has made significant strides in ‘solarising’ its economy.
- India has become the fastest solar power generating country which is the result of the effective Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. With the help of the PPP model, some renowned companies like Acme solar, Adani and Greenko became the top producers of solar energy in India by 2019.
- In 2014, the Modi government had set an initial target of 20 GW solar power capacity for 2022, which was achieved in 2018 and then the target was raised to 100 GW (including 40 GW from rooftop solar panels by 2022), aiming for an investment of US$100 billion. The country’s installed solar capacity was 35,122 MW by the end of June 2020.
Government support –
- The government is aiming at 25,750 megawatts (MW) of new power generation capacity from solar plants under the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) scheme by 2022. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy launched the scheme in 2019, with three components – installation of 10,000 MW capacity through small solar energy-based power plants on barren lands, installation of 17.5 lakh stand-alone off-grid solar water pumps and solarisation of 10 lakh existing grid-connected agriculture pumps.
- This shows that the government has invested more in solar PV than in all fossil fuel sources of electricity generation together. In India, the labour is available at low cost and the construction of a solar plant requires only 20-30% high skilled manpower with the rest being semi-skilled or unskilled workers. Government’s focus on renewable energy will help in accelerating the country’s economic growth by giving jobs to unskilled and semi-skilled labours.
- According to a recent report from the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in 2019 the renewable energy workforce in India grew five times in the past five years. Therefore, the government schemes and plans to increase the renewables share in energy generation are expected to drive the solar energy market at a faster pace.
State wise performance –
Currently, Karnataka is leading the race among all States of India and has approximately 24% market share of the total installed capacity in India. Some of India’s biggest solar power plants are the states of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Challenges and the way ahead –
- The main challenge in the present scenario is the scarcity of consolidated available lands. Devising Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) or rooftop policies are the need of the hour in India to deal with land issues.
- Banks need to be more flexible in extending loans for PV installation for Micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and residential consumers. So far, the installation of PV cells has not been sufficient at small scale level; it is focused at large scale energy generation.
- For inclusive and sustainable growth and development of our country, the installation should also be done on a small scale. To this end, awareness programs need to be created among residential consumers and small firms and reliable information should be provided to them about various factors regarding the PV market, availability of the products, rooftop installation benefits etc.
In the coming years, shortage in non-renewable sources of energy will play a key role in making renewable energy a major source of power and will help in further reducing its cost. The increasing preference for solar power plants in India plays a crucial role in the country’s transition to a fully sustainable energy system. Overall, the work in progress for setting up PV cell panels on a large scale is quite commendable and gives hope for the future. Development of an end-to-end value chain for a more competitive global pricing will help in achieving sustainable energy growth in the long run.
Source – India Foundation
QUESTION – Discuss the phenomenal rise of solar energy power capacity of India since the last decade. Also discuss the challenges and the way ahead.