Exploring the Indian Solar Industry

India is a lucky country to have 300 sunny days in a year, so it is essential to tap the solar potential to meet the energy demand. As the nation’s energy demand is continuously increasing, it is important to involve solar energy in the total energy mix.

May 09, 2023. By News Bureau

Indian Government has taken long-term energy targets to install 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030 so that the portion of renewable energy in the energy mix will be increased and the nation doesn’t depend on fossil fuels only.

India is a lucky country to have 300 sunny days in a year, so it is essential to tap the solar potential to meet the energy demand.  As the nation’s energy demand is continuously increasing, it is important to involve solar energy in the total energy mix.

India currently depends on non-renewable sources majorly for electricity generation. The depletion of resources is a serious issue and the government and power-generating companies have found RE energy as the other source of energy. Out of all the renewable energy sources available, solar energy is the most convenient because of less maintenance and easy installation. Rooftop solar power plants are preferable because of easy installation. The favourable environment created by the government through subsidy schemes and policies is encouraging power generation companies to invest in this sector and thus promoting growth. The other major factors are the demand for electricity in rural areas lacking grid connectivity, and the abundant availability of solar energy in India throughout the year.

Solar power generation emits less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than coal.  Installing solar power plants has the key benefit of getting cheap electricity than electricity generated by fossil fuels.But an additional advantage of the solar plant is carbon credit generation also. This additional revenue generation is getting famous amongsolar developers.

Large-scaleon-grid applications are more feasible in areas where plenty of barren land is available with high irradiation of solar such as Gujarat and Rajasthan. It is important to concentrate on these areas and install solar parks rather than going for low-irradiation areas. Large-scale solar parks can generate huge amounts of carbon credits also which is additional revenue for the owner. Solar energy generated through these solar parks can be utilised through green open access.

More than 80000 villages in India suffer electricity supply shortages throughout the year. This reason provides ample opportunities for deploying off-grid solar applications. Solar water purifiers, solar lighting, and solar pumps are some of the prominent applications for reducing diesel usage. Also, in remote areas, solar with storage can be used as a 24x7 supply in hospitals and some primary facilities.

Localised mini grids for PV systems can be set up in remote areas where grid connectivity is lacking. Electricitygenerated by mini-grids can be distributed through localized LT networks. Central government subsidy can finance the initial set up and state or local governments can fund distributions. The main advantages of mini-grids are less initial setup cost and less power tariff compared to conventional grid power.

Active growth of the Indian solar energy industry calls for immediate implementation of government policies. These measures will not only boost the growth of the solar energy sector but also reduce the usage of non-renewable sources of energy and their carbon footprint.

R&D in the solar sector is on fast track in terms of technology nowadays. Already PERC, TOPCon, HJT solar modules are in the market now. Research work is carried out in solar cells also with material science on increasing the efficiency of solar cells so that final conversion efficiency can be improved. Government has to frame comprehensive R&D schemes and provide incentives to encourage development in this sector. Facilitating closer industry-government cooperation and increasing consumer awareness about the benefits of solar energy are some of the other main challenges currently faced by the industry.

Increasing public awareness about solar energy as energy scarcity and environmental preservation shall also fuel the demand for eco-friendly power, hinting at growth opportunities for solar power.

Solar projects are capital-intensive and the lack of an effective financial structure is another challenge in the solar sector. The disparity in policies across the Indian states is another challenge pertaining in the industry. Many state governments are allocating aggressive policies to increase the penetration of solar. The high cost of solar power generation is still a challenge, but soon we hope that we will achieve grid parity.

Solar energy possesses tremendous potential but there are various challenges for this industry, including lowering the cost of production, increasing R&D, consumer awareness, and financing infrastructure. It is important to overcome these challenges for fast growth and mass adoption of the technology. Some of the immediate actions to enable growth are the efficient implementation of renewable energy certificates, the usage of carbon trading as a source of revenue,and encouraging localized mini-grids in areas that lack connectivity today. If these initiatives work as planned, it is only a matter before India becomes one of the world leaders in solar energy.

- Vineet Mittal, Director & Co-Founder, Navitas Solar
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