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India's Solar Energy Push

India's Solar Energy Push

Context

Rewa solar power project, one of the largest in Asia, is inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India. It was set up by Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited, a joint venture between Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited and the Centre’s Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI).

Background:

  • India aimed at 100 GW of installed solar power capacity by 2022.
  • India has managed to hit about 35 GW in installed capacity till now.
  • One major gap is rooftop solar, which has not progressed much.
  • So while adding 65 GW of solar capacity in two years looks tough, opening up the rooftop solar market nationwide can help push the envelope.

Summary of the Debate

Solar Power Sector

  • India has a target of installing 175 GW renewables capacity by 2022. Out of this, solar energy has the biggest chunk of 100 GW.
  • Green energy projects in India account for more than a fifth of India’s installed power generation capacity.
  • India has 34.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar power with an aim to have 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022.
  • India can fully use its solar power potential if the country will develop better solar panels, battery, and storage manufacturing capacity.
  • Projects like Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Ltd (RUMSL) solar plant have given impetus to this journey.Electricity-Generation-by-Source-in-FY-2019-20.png
  • The domestic market for solar components is dominated by Chinese companies due to their competitive pricing.
  • India imported $2.16 billion worth of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, panels, and modules in 2018-19.

Top five solar power plants in India:

  • Bhadla Solar Park (2,250MW) is located in Bhadla village, in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district. 
  • Shakti Sthala solar power project (2,050MW) in Pavagada taluk, Tumakuru district, Karnataka.
  • Ultra Mega Solar Park (1,000MW) situated in Orvakal, Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Rewa Solar Power Project (750MW) in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Kamuthi solar power plant (648M) in Ramanathapuram district of the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Initiatives by Government of India to boost India’s renewable energy sector

  • India is planning to add 30 GW of renewable energy capacity along a desert on its western borders such as Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • Delhi Government develop a thermal power plant in Rajghat into 5,000 KW solar park
  • Hydropower policy for 2018-28 was drafted for the growth of hydro projects in the country.
  • India has announced plans to implement a US$ 238 million National Mission on advanced ultra-supercritical technologies for cleaner coal utilization.
  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has decided to provide custom and excise duty benefits to the solar rooftop sector, which will lower the cost of setting up as well as generate power, thus boosting growth.
  • Indian Railways is taking increased efforts through sustained energy efficient measures and maximum use of clean fuel to cut down emission levels by 33 percent by 2030.

Challenges to the Solar power Sector

  • Supply: The COvid-19 pandemic has adversely affected the supply which mainly comes from the neighboring nations. It would impact the manufacturing of equipment. The supply will affect the price and charges and taxation on those products.
  • The distribution sector is one of the main challenges for the solar power sector.
    • Most solar projects are coming through the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Every PPA worked out on particular models. It is important to make a balance between these models.
  • India has to work on the Research and Development part of this. India still struggles with the technology part. For Cheap and quality products innovation require from R&D.
  • Efficient Pricing Model: Pricing is the main factor in the success of this process. The pricing and charges should be comfortable form the manufacturers’ end, vendor, or trader’s end as well as from the consumer end.
  • India needs to work on the untapped potential of rooftop solar and agriculture: Another area which the government can use to drive long term solar adoption is agriculture and rooftop solar.

Conclusion

Pricing of course is going to be the biggest and fundamental issue but the future of solar energy looks brighter and the generation is looking good as well. There are some challenges that need to address and be looked at along the way.

International Solar Alliance

  • It is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization working to create a global market system to tap the benefits of solar power and promote clean energy applications.
  • The launch of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was announced by Prime Minister of India and President of France on 30th November 2015, at the 21st session of United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP-21) in Paris, France.
  • It is headquartered at Gwal Pahari, Gurugram, Haryana, India.

National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE)

  • It an autonomous institution of the Ministry of New and Renewable (MNRE), is the apex National R&D institution in the field of Solar Energy.
  • The Government of India has converted 25-year-old Solar Energy Centre (SEC) under MNRE to an autonomous institution in September 2013 to assist the Ministry in implementing the National Solar Mission and to coordinate research, technology and other related works.
  • NISE is maintaining a NABL accredited Solar Photovoltaic module testing laboratory, lighting system test laboratory, battery testing facility and a water pumping system test rig and outdoor test facilities. The center has fully developed a testing facility for small and large size solar thermal systems and Solar Resource Assessment.

Main points by the Guests

1. Prafulla Pathak, President, Solar Energy Society of India

  • India has 34.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar power with an aim to have 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022.
  • Projects like Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Ltd (RUMSL) solar plant have given impetus to this journey.
  • Pricing is the main factor in the success of this process. The pricing and charges should be comfortable form the manufacturer end, vendor or trader end as well as from the consumer end.

Subhomoy Bhattacharjee, Consulting Editor, Business Standard

  • The distribution sector is one of the main challenges for the solar power sector.
  • Most solar projects are coming through the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Every PPA worked out on particular models. It is important to make a balance between these models.
  • India has to work on the Research and Development part of this. India still struggles with the technology part. For Cheap and quality products innovation require from R&D.

Upendra Tripathy, Director General, International Solar Alliance 

  • India is has a lot of potential in this field. It has come a long way and in the future will achieve its target too.
  • India will solve the issue of pricing.

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