[Window of Opportunity] Solar energy industry in India


Solar energy is one of the purest and clean forms of energy we receive on earth, without any environmental degradation. Thanks to the never-ending solar radiations we receive, it is responsible for all the life processes taking place on earth. If we tap into this energy systematically, this can be the largest source of energy, and even a tenth of energy from solar rays on earth can solve all the energy crisis globally.

In India, however, the potential of energy from solar rays is about 5000 TWh. If this energy is utilized, we won’t need any other source of energy in our country. There are many ways converting solar energy to electricity, but most widely used ones are by using photo-voltaic cells (also called solar cells) and concentrated solar power, where solar rays are focused and the concentrated power generates heat to run the solar plant.

Solar energy has gained a lot of significance in recent decade, due to shortage of non-renewable sources of energy. Some progress has been made in meeting the demands of electricity in our country by installing solar plants, yet we produce about 1440 MW of energy.

India being the first country in the world to setup the ministry of non-conventional energy resources, yet energy produced from solar PV contributes to a mere 4.59% of the renewable energy installed capacity in India.

There have been a few initiatives from the government, such as the Indian Solar Loan Programme, which has focussed on financing solar home power systems, to increase the use of solar energy for domestic use. It may also include lighting, irrigation or water heaters. Notably, Bangalore city has the largest deployment of solar water heaters in India.

Solar industry has also attracted significant investment accounting to about $4.2 billion in 2011.

Gujarat and Rajasthan alone account to more than 88% of total solar energy produced in India.

As an entrepreneur, the potential for innovation is endless in this sector, as the whole world is moving in a direction to minimize the use of renewable energy and opting for solar devices. Right from automobiles to domestic appliances and handheld devices, solar is going to dominate the market in our near future. Moreover, as the efficiency of solar cells is less then 10%, there is huge scope for innovators to develop energy efficient solar devices and make it cost-effective to address the demands of the large population in our country.