All about India’s Solar Policy
About 70% of India’s electricity generation capacity is from fossil fuels. India is largely dependent on fossil fuel imports to meet its energy demands.
By 2030, India’s dependence on energy imports is expected to exceed 53% of the country’s total energy consumption. Greater import dependence is a a threat to India’s energy security as it introduces global market volatility into the mix.
It also adds to a huge import bill leading to a loss of valuable foreign capital. We need to shift our focus towards the renewable energy sources. After the recently concluded Paris talks, wherein countries agreed to limit their emissions so as to contain the global temperature rise to Co2, the need to develop renewable energy sector gains even more importance. There are various sources of renewable energy like wind, nuclear, solar, tidal, geothermal etc. But, in this article, we shall mainly talk about the solar energy and various policy initiatives of India in this sector.
As per World Energy Outlook Report 2015, India has substantial solar potential around 750 gigawatts (GW) (based on the assumption that 3% of wasteland in each state can be used for solar power projects, plus an assessment of the potential for rooftop solar). This represents almost three times India’s total installed power capacity today.
Solar capacity region wise
The solar resource is strongest in the north and northwest of the country (Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir), but the potential is also considerably high in several other states, including
Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.
India’s renewable energy target
- Target: 175GW from renewable energy sources by 2022 · Break up:100 GW from solar, 60 GW from the wind, 10 GW from biomass and 5 GW from small hydroelectric projects.
· 100GW = 60 GW of utility-scale projects (both solar PV and CSP) like solar parks + 40 GW of rooftop solar applications for commercial users and households, together with some small-scale schemes and off-grid capacity
PV: Photo Voltaic CSP: Concentrated Solar Power
Note: World’s total installed solar power capacity was 181 GW in 2014. If India achieves this target, it would make it a global leader in renewable energy.
National Solar Mission or Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)
· It was launched on 11th January 2010 Apex ministry: Ministry of New and
Renewable Energy (MNRE).
· India’s Solar capacity in 2010: 17.8MW
· Grid connected solar power in 2016: 8GW
Objectives of JNNSM
1. To establish India as a global leader in solar energy
2. To promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenges
3. Short term: To create enabling environment for penetration of solar technology throughout the country Mission’s target was revised in 2015,
Initial Target: 20GW
Revised Target: 100GW
Target is to be achieved in 3 phases,
· 1st Phase: 2010-13
· 2nd Phase: 2013–17
· 3rd Phase: 2017–22
At each stage, progress will be reviewed and roadmap for future targets will be adopted.
Note: We are currently in 2nd phase of the mission
Domestic content controversy
· Guidelines for the solar mission mandated cells and modules for solar PV projects based on crystalline silicon to be manufactured in India.
· This accounts for over 60% of total system costs.
· For solar thermal, guidelines mandated 30% project to have domestic content.
· A vigorous controversy emerged between power project developers and solar PV equipment manufacturers.
· The former camp prefers to source modules by accessing highly competitive global market to attain flexible pricing, better quality, predictable delivery and use of latest technologies.
· The latter camp prefers a controlled/planned environment to force developers to purchase modules from a small, albeit growing, group of module manufacturers in India.
· Manufacturers want to avoid competition with global players and are lobbying the government to incentivize growth of local industry.
· US Trade Representative has filed a complaint at World Trade Organization challenging India’s domestic content requirements citing discrimination against US exports.
· WTO ruled in favor of USA.
Road towards solar superiority
· The State of Gujarat has commissioned Asia’s largest solar park at Charanka village.
· The French group AREVA Solar is currently engaged in constructing a 250 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) installation in Rajashtan, which will become the largest CSP installation in Asia.
· The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, is supporting the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh set up the 750-MW ultra-mega solar power project in Rewa. This will be the largest single-site solar power project in the world
· World’s largest single rooftop solar power plant of 11.5 Mw capacity was inaugurated in Beas near Amritsar in Punjab
· Cost dropped but more research needed: The cost of solar per kilowatt hour dropped from a 2012 Planning Commission estimate of Rs. 10.4 – 12.5 to Rs. 4.3 in the latest round of “reverse auctions” (low bid wins) but still many coal based power plants are rivaling it at around Rs 3KW per hour. Thus more research is needed to bring the cost further down.
Advantages of switching to solar
· Environment-friendly: Solar energy is environment-friendly. When in use, it does not release CO2 and other gases which pollute the air. Hence it is very suitable for India, India being one of the most polluted countries of the world.
· Varied use: Solar energy can be used for a variety of purposes like as heating, drying, cooking or electricity, which is suitable for the rural areas in India. It can also be used in cars, planes, large power boats, satellites, calculators and much more such items, just apt for the urban population.
· Abundant & Secure: Solar power is inexhaustible. In an energy deficient country like India, where power generation is costly, solar energy is the best alternative means of power generation.
· Grid independent: You don’t need a power or gas grid to get solar energy. A solar energy system can be installed anywhere. Solar panels can be easily placed in houses. Hence, it is quite inexpensive compared to other sources of energy
· Reduced dependence on fossil fuels Disadvantages
· Not available during night time
· Weather dependent: During daytime, the weather may be cloudy or rainy, with little or no sun radiation. Hence, this makes solar energy panels less reliable as a solution.
· Sunny area required: Only those areas that receive agood amount of sunlight are suitable for producing solar energy.
· High upfront cost: Solar panels also require inverts and storage batteries to convert direct electricity to alternating electricity so as to generate electricity. While installing a solar panel is quite cheap, installing other equipment becomes expensive.
· High surface area required: The land space required to install a solar plant with solar panel is quite large and that land space remains occupied for many years altogether and cannot be used for other purposes. India is already a highly populous and land starved country.
· Energy production is quite low compared to other forms of energy.
· Maintenance: Solar panels require considerable maintenance as they are fragile and can be easily damaged. So extra expenses are incurred as additional insurance costs.
There can be no better conclusion for this article than what Onno Ruhl, World Bank’s Country Director in India said “With around 300 days of sunshine every year, India has among the best conditions in the world to harness solar energy. The rapid expansion of solar power can improve the quality of life for millions of Indians, especially for its poorest citizens. It can also create thousands of jobs in the solar industry and underpin progress in all areas of development, helping the country fulfill its dream of becoming the ‘India of the future’.