An Overview on Development of Solar Electricity Supply System in India

India is currently under the “Green Energy Revolution” that can increase the prosperity for millions of families by harnessing the sun’s free, clean, and abundant energy. Solar electricity in India has increased, and with the right policies in place, the nation can become a world leader in solar electric supply. Most importantly, this solar endeavour can help the nation address constant acute power shortages, making a real difference in the world’s fight against climate change.

With a total of 1047.84 megawatts of grid-connected photovoltaic projects along with 160.8 megawatts of off-grid systems commissioned under different solar energy policy mechanisms, India is set on the path to becoming one of the world’s largest solar power harnessing countries.

India’s abundant solar energy potential can provide a viable and clean replacement for the notoriously polluting, harmful, and rapidly declining conventional energy sources.

Let’s have a look at India’s outlook on the development of solar electricity supply system.

Solar Energy Potential in India

India sits along the Northern Hemisphere, divided into two halves by the Tropic of Cancer. The north half resides in the subtropical zone, whereas the southern half-lives in the tropical zone. Because of this locational advantage, India has about 250-300 sunny days per year. The best part is that the country receives hourly radiation of 200 MW/km-sq. Based on the SUNY satellite, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released a 10-kilometre resolution solar resource map for India that shows the majority part of the country has a direct normal irradiance (DNI) of 5 kWh/m-sq per day.

Rajasthan and Gujarat are the states that receive more than 5 kWh/m-sq per day DNI. The high-elevation Himalayan region also experiences significant DNI. States like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh receives average DNI. The areas could be expanded by using building-integrated PV. It can also deploy a decentralized distributed electricity system. According to a study, it was found that the use of building-integrated PV technology could alone generate 11,000 TWh per year. However, large-scale CSP is yet to be deployed in the country.

All this means that India’s potential for solar energy is exponential. The policymakers have to think in the right direction if they want the country to harness clean power in the future.

India has already taken steps in this direction by announcing very aggressive goals of meeting 40% of its energy requirements through renewable sources by the end of 2030. With strategic economic investments and favourable policies, India could quickly meet all its energy requirements through renewables very shortly. 


Development of Solar Electricity Systems

The Indian Government has recognized the need for solar energy for sustainable development. Thus, the country has issued numerous policy measures like the soft loan, excise duty exemption, RPO (Renewable Purchase Obligation), and feed-in tariff (FiT) to meet the target.

One study showed that in 2012-2013, most states in India could not install the recommended solar power system as per their RPO compliance requirements. India will need an average of 34,000 MW of solar capacity to deliver 3% contribution from solar electricity by 2022. Till now, the RPO targets are underway but not to their full potential.

The Central Government expects to fill this gap by initiating solar energy programs and policies in each potential state. The good news is that most states have already come up with their solar-energy-specific programs and policies to boost progress.


How can India Achieve its Environmental, Economic, and Energy Goals?

To achieve true energy independence, India needs a combination of solar power and energy storage. While the country is already in top gear when it comes to improving infrastructure and power reliability, it needs to work on more aspects, and fast.

The following are some strategies that India could implement to boost its development of solar electricity supply system:

  • Developing national renewable energy policy that can create demand, a new wave of green jobs, and establish innovation and industries
  • Inviting international developers
  • Electrifying transportation by moving to electric vehicles
  • Initiating utility-scale projects
  • Developing innovating financing solutions

Still, more has to be done in this regard. But we are optimistic that the development will take place faster than anticipated.

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