India’s focus on solar power may earn it a place in the sun by 2022
India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer after the US and China, is working to meet 100 GW solar power target by 2022 as part of its global climate change commitments.
The sun’s shining bright on India’s solar energy plans. The world’s third largest consumer of energy after the US and China, India has crossed 25 GW in terms of total installed solar capacity, and is moving closer to the 2022 target of 100 GW.
In the first half of 2018, about 5 GW of solar capacity was installed across the country including both large-scale and rooftop solar.
"We are well on track to achieving 175 GW target of installed renewable energy capacity. Trends suggest that the target will not only be achieved, but exceeded,” a statement released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said.
Solar energy capacity has gone up from 2.63 GW in 2014 to 22 GW currently, an eight-fold increase. Last year, India attained the fourth position globally in installed wind power, with capacity increasing from 21 GW to 34 GW in the past four years. Renewable power installed capacity has already reached over 70 GW, taking the country to the 5th rank globally; another 40 GW is under construction or has been tendered.
“We are witnessing a historic transformation in the energy landscape as India shifts from coal towards solar and wind,” says Raj Prabhu, the CEO of Mercom Capital Group.
The growth story
India's utility solar capacity grew by 72 percent in 2017-18 over the previous year. Total solar installation was 10.4 GW; the rest comprising rooftop solar plants and off-grid solutions, and taking the country’s cumulative solar capacity to 24.4 GW. It installed 9.1 GW of utility solar against 5.5 GW in 2016-17.
“We are forecasting approximately 8-9 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity to be added by the end of 2018. The drop in 2018 solar power installations is mostly in large-scale projects due to lack of a strong project pipeline,” Raj says.
According to Mercom India Research, approximately 1 MW of solar PV capacity was installed every hour in India in the first half of 2018. In Q2 2018, large-scale installations totalled 1,184 MW compared to 2,954 MW in Q1 2018 and 1,800 MW installed in Q2 2017. Rooftop installations accounted for 415 MW, which was up 6 percent compared to 390 MW installed in the previous quarter and up 84 percent compared to 225 MW installed in Q2 2017. In Q2 2018, large-scale solar projects accounted for 74 percent while rooftop solar accounted for the other 26 percent.
The boost in the renewable energy sector is driven by multiple startups, including 8Minutes, Orb Energy, ReNew Power Ventures, Ostro Energy, Oorjan, Nuevosol Energy, Sun Mobility, India GoSolar, Claro Energy, and Mera Gap Power, among others.
According to BP’s annual review report, the use of solar power across the globe has risen by 50 percent in the past decade while that of wind energy has increased by 22 percent.
Roli Gupta, the Founder of Oorjan, says with increased awareness people are now open to using renewable energy and are open to installing solar power systems at their homes and business establishments.
“Based on our data during the last three monsoons, even on rainy or cloudy days, there is 30 to 40 percent production, compared with a 100 percent production in summers. The interesting thing is that power consumption is much higher in summer due to the use of air conditioners, so with the lower production and consumption during monsoons, it actually balances out,” she says.
Many housing societies are adopting solar energy to light up common areas and run lifts and pumps.
Prof. Ashok, of IIT Madras, says: “Renewable energy is here to stay. More so solar energy, which we have in abundance, and policies are supporting the growth of solar.”
To realise the 175 GW target, the government has initiated numerous policy measures, including:
- KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan) Scheme: Under this scheme, the government has planned to provide 27.5 lakh solar pumps (17.50 lakh standalone plus 10 lakh grid-connected). It will help farmers install total 10 GW of Solar Power Plants of intermediate capacity of 0.5 to 2 MW each. It also envisages 50,000 grid-connected tube wells/lift irrigation and drinking water projects.
- SRISTI (Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India): The Ministry is implementing Grid Connected Rooftop Solar (RTS) Power Programme in which subsidy/incentives are being provided for residential, institutional, social, and government sector. States/UTs have also taken conducive policy and regulatory measures for promotion of solar rooftop units.
- The government has made a provision for transparent bidding and facilitation for procurement of solar and wind power through tariff-based competitive bidding process. This has led to significant reduction in cost of solar and wind power.
- The government has waived Inter State Transmission System charges and losses for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by March 2022. This will encourage setting up of the projects in states that have greater resource potential and availability of suitable land. It also helps in creating a pan-India renewable power market, as generation in excess of the state’s own requirement could be transmitted to resource-poor states without additional financial burden.
- For optimising land use and harnessing solar and wind energy potential optimally, the government has notified the solar-wind hybrid policy. This policy will help in better harnessing of renewable energy resources and also address renewable energy variability.
- The target for solar parks has been enhanced from 20 GW to 40 GW. Forty-one solar parks in 21 states with aggregate capacity of over 26 GW have already been sanctioned. The largest solar park (2 GW capacity in Pavagada, Karnataka) is under implementation. A new solar park policy has been announced to encourage participation by private parties and CPSUs in setting up solar parks.
“Over $42 billion investment was made in renewable energy in India during last 4 years. New opportunities have emerged; a new business space has been created. Indian companies have begun to explore foreign stock exchanges as a source of funds. India is progressively becoming a most favoured destination for investment in renewables,” the ministry stated.
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