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India’s Contribution to Growth of Solar Energy Initiatives: Analysis

16 min read
Solar Energy Power Law insider

By: Arryan Mohanty,

Published on: April 1, 2022 at 10:00 IST

Introduction

Solar energy, a zero-emission pure renewable resource, offers enormous energy potential that may be captured using a number of methods.

Solar energy systems are now readily available for both industrial and home usage, with the added benefit of little maintenance.

With government tax incentives and rebates, solar energy might become commercially feasible.

Solar energy is becoming one of the most popular renewable energy sources in most developed countries.

When constructing building blueprints, contemporary architectural designs provide for solar cells and accompanying electronics.

The National Solar Mission is a significant project of the Indian government and state governments to encourage environmentally friendly growth while also solving India’s energy security issue.

It would also be a significant contribution by India to the global effort to address climate change issues.

The National Solar Mission’s goal is to make India a global leader in solar energy by establishing the regulatory circumstances that would allow it to spread as swiftly as possible across the country.

The Mission’s immediate goal is to focus on creating an enabling environment in the Country for solar technology adoption, both centralised and decentralised.

“India is a tropical country, where sunlight is accessible for more hours each day and in greater intensity,” according to the National Action Plan on Climate Change. As a result, solar energy has a lot of potential as a future energy source.

It also has the benefit of allowing for decentralised energy delivery, which empowers people at the grassroots level.”

India is experiencing severe energy crisis, which is impeding its industrial and economic development.

The installation of new power plants is inextricably linked to the importation of extremely volatile fossil resources.

As a result, it is critical to address the energy issue by making wise use of plentiful renewable energy resources such as biomass, solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy.

Renewable energy sources will not only assist India meet its energy needs, but they will also aid in the mitigation of climate change.

India’s energy needs are primarily reliant on fossil fuels. Coal and mineral oil-based power plants generate the majority of electricity, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

Solar power, a zero-emission clean renewable resource, offers enormous energy potential that may be captured using a number of methods.

Solar energy systems are now readily available for both industrial and home usage, with the added benefit of little maintenance.

With government tax incentives and rebates, solar energy might become commercially feasible.

Solar energy is becoming one of the most popular renewable energy sources in most developed countries.

When constructing building blueprints, contemporary architectural designs provide for solar cells and accompanying electronics.

India’s average yearly temperature ranges from 25°C to 27.5°C due to its position between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator.

As a result, India has enormous solar potential. The sunniest parts are situated in the south/east coast, from Kolkata to Chennai.

Solar Energy in India

The Government set a goal of 20 GW of capacity for 2022, which was met four years ahead of schedule. The goal was upped in 2015 to 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022 (including 40 GW from rooftop solar), with a projected expenditure of $100 billion. Nearly 42 solar parks have been built in India to provide land to solar plant developers.

According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, another 36.03 GW of solar projects are in different phases of execution (as of January 31, 2021), with another 23.87 GW in the tendering process.

The predicted solar energy incidence on India’s geographical area is roughly 5 quadrillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year (or 5 EWh/yr.) with about 300 clear and bright days per year. Solar energy accessible in a single year is greater than the combined energy production of India’s fossil fuel reserves.

In India, the daily average solar-power-plant generating capacity is 0.30 kWh per m2 of usable land area, which equates to 1,400–1,800 peak (rated) capacity operating hours in a year using commercially available technology.

India initiated a $40 million (US$5.3 million) initiative in June 2015 to detect solar radiation with a spatial resolution of 3 by 3 kilometers (1.9 km 1.9 mi).

The Indian solar-radiation atlas is built on the foundation of this solar-radiation measurement network.

The National Institute of Wind Energy, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, has erected 121 solar radiation resource assessment (SRRA) stations around India to develop a database of solar-energy potential.

The Centre for Wind Energy Technology collects and reports data (C-WET).

Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI), Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI), and Diffuse Horizontal Irradiance are some of the metrics examined (DHI).

Solar power plants with battery storage systems that employ net energy metering may send stored electricity into the power grid when the frequency is lower than the rated parameter (50 Hz) and take excess power from the grid when the frequency is higher.

About 100 times each day, excursions over and below the rated grid frequency occur.

If a frequency-based tariff is provided to rooftop solar plants or plants dedicated to a distribution substation, the solar-plant owner would get roughly double the price for power delivered into the grid compared to electricity taken from the grid.

Solar plants with battery storage systems that support ancillary-service activities and transfer produced electricity for captive consumption utilizing an open-access facility do not require a power-purchase agreement (PPA).

In India, battery storage is common, with more than 10 million households utilizing it during load shedding.

To enhance the power factor, battery storage technologies are also employed.

Solar PV or wind combined with four-hour battery storage systems is already cost competitive as a source of dispatchable production in India, even without subsidies or power purchase agreements, by selling peak electricity on the Indian Energy Exchange.”

From January to June, India experiences morning peak power demand for approximately 6 months, and solar power output between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. is insufficient to fulfil morning peak demand because its availability peaks around noon.

Solar power panels, on the other hand, can be oriented/fixed in a south eastern direction (almost 10° east of south) to collect more sun light for increased solar power output during peak hours.

Higher solar tariffs in the morning allow solar power plants to meet the national grid’s maximum peak demand, lowering the pressure on peaking hydro or load-following power plants.

Growth of Solar Energy

The Government’s recognition of the relevance of solar electricity began with the Rural Electrification Program of 2006.

It outlined how off-grid solar applications should be implemented. However, as of February 14, 2012, only 33.8MW of capacity has been added using this scheme.

Solar lanterns, solar pumps, house lighting systems, street lighting systems, and solar home systems were among the items on the list.

As a further step, India launched the Semiconductor Policy in 2007 to promote the electronic and information technology industry.

This includes the silicon and photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing industries.

Titan Energy Systems, Indo Solar Limited, and KSK Surya Photovoltaic Venture Private Limited, among others, took advantage of the Special Incentive Scheme featured in this legislation and built PV module manufacturing factories.

Although this step aided the manufacturing industry’s growth, the majority of its output was still exported.

At the time, no PV projects were being constructed in India. A policy to integrate solar electricity into the grid was also required.

One of the major roadblocks to rural India’s growth is a lack of energy infrastructure.

India’s grid system is still in its infancy, with large swaths of the population living off the grid.

There are around 80,000 communities in the Nation that are still without electricity as of 2004. 18,000 of these communities were unable to be powered by extending the standard grid.

The Tenth National Five-Year Plan (2002–2007) set a goal of powering 5,000 such settlements.

More than 2,700 villages and hamlets had been electrified as of 2004, mostly utilizing SPV systems.

Developments in low-cost solar technology are being looked at as a possible option for creating an electrical infrastructure that consists of a network of local-grid clusters with distributed power generation.

This might eliminate, or at the very least reduce, the need for costly and inefficient long-distance centralised power distribution systems while yet providing affordable electricity to the people.

By 2014, 3000 villages in Odisha would be powered by solar energy.

Solar power will become an economically feasible option, particularly for urban and semi-urban users, once price parity with consumer tariffs occurs.

By 2020, distributed generation in rural regions and support for latent urban demand might reach 4 GW, with a fast growth to more than 10 GW in the next three to four years.

The government’s initial effort to encourage grid-connected solar power facilities was the Generation Based Incentive (GBI) scheme, which was introduced in January 2008.

The plan established a feed-in tariff (FIT) for solar electricity for the first time (at a maximum of Rs. 15/kWh).

The cost given was unviable since the cost of solar power generation was still approximately Rs. 18/kWh at the time.

A developer could not build more than 5MW of solar power in India under the GBI plan, which limited the benefits of scale.

One of the scheme’s major flaws was that it neglected to include state utilities and the government in project development, leaving issues like land acquisition and grid availability unanswered.

As a result, despite the GBI plan, India’s installed capacity only increased little to 6MW by 2009. The Indian government released the National Action Plan for Climate Change in June 2008. (NAPCC).

The National Solar Mission was an element of that goal (NSM). The NSM recommendations suggested that the government had addressed the GBI scheme’s flaws.

Its goal was to create a commercially oriented solar business that was built on a strong local industry.

Under the GBI system, the federal government covered the additional cost of Solar Electricity Generation.

Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission intends to develop and implement solar energy technology throughout the Country by 2022, with the goal of achieving parity with grid electricity tariffs.

The National Solar Mission is a significant project of the Indian government and state governments to encourage environmentally friendly growth while also solving India’s energy security issue.

It would also be a significant contribution by India to the global effort to address climate change issues.

The National Solar Mission’s goal is to make India a global leader in solar energy by establishing the regulatory circumstances that would allow it to spread as swiftly as possible across the Country.

The goal would be to insulate the government from subsidy exposure in the event that anticipated cost reductions do not occur or occur more quickly than planned.

The Mission’s immediate goal is to focus on creating an enabling environment in the Country for solar technology adoption, both centralised and decentralised.

Solar Thermal Process

Solar thermal electricity methods generate electricity by converting the sun’s energy into high-temperature heat, which is then channeled to an on-site power plant and utilized to generate electricity using classic heat-conversion technology.

The plant is divided into two sections: one that absorbs solar energy and converts it to heat, and the other that transforms heat energy to electricity.

Solar Cell

A semiconductor device that converts sunlight into electricity is known as a solar cell. Between two electrodes is a semiconductor substance.

When sunlight strikes the cell, free negatively charged electrons are ejected from the material, allowing for power conversion.

This is referred to as the photovoltaic effect.

A solar cell constructed of a single semiconductor material can only convert around 30% of the solar radiation energy it receives into electricity in principle.

Commercial cells now have efficiencies ranging from 5 to 12 percent for thin films and 13 to 21 percent for crystalline silicon-based cells, depending on technology.

The application of laboratory methods has resulted in efficiencies of up to 25%.

Multiple solar cells have been used to attain efficiency of above 35%.

Solar Photovoltaics

Photovoltaic is made up of two words: Photo, which means light, and Voltaic, which means electricity.

It’s a technique that transforms light into electricity immediately.

Photovoltaic material turns sunlight directly into electricity, most often using highly pure silicon.

Future

Between 2016 and 2018, when solar obtains grid parity with conventional electricity, the solar industry’s structure will swiftly change.

Solar will be viewed as a viable energy source, not just as a substitute for other renewables but also for a major percentage of traditional grid electricity.

The seed phase’s testing and improvement of off-grid and rooftop solar models will pave the way for this segment’s spectacular expansion in the growth phase.

Photovoltaic (PV) module prices are falling globally, lowering the overall cost of solar power generation.

This resulted in a significant drop in the number of successful bids for JNNSM projects in India.

Solar costs in India are already among the lowest in the world, at 15 to 17 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).

Prices will likely continue to plummet over the next four years due to overcapacity in the module business before levelling out.

Solar power might be 15% cheaper than the costliest grid-connected conventional energy sources by 2016.

In traditional terms, the combined capacity of those providers is almost 8 GW, which equates to a solar equivalent generating capacity potential of 25 to 30 GW.

However, because to implementation issues, it’s doubtful that all of this potential will be achieved by 2016.

Grid parity will be a turning point in the solar business, resulting in two big adjustments.

Grid-connected capacity will grow at a far quicker rate than before, due to favourable project economics, while laws and regulatory measures will be modified to boost off-grid production.

Solar power capacity might reach more than 50 GW by 2022, according to one estimate, due to a combination of rising energy demand, fossil fuel pricing and supply difficulties, and favourable environmental policies.

After 2016, the market will undergo a considerable transformation.

Lower solar costs paired with growing grid power prices will persuade off-takers (distribution corporations, private entities employing open access, and companies building their own captive capacity) that solar power is economically feasible.

As developers construct capacity to fulfil both RPO needs and demand from off takers seeking cost-effective alternatives to conventional electricity, this change will signify the start of the boom phase, during which grid-connected solar capacity will rapidly expand to over 35 GW by 2020.

Challenges

Scarcity of Land

In India, land availability per capita is a limited resource. Space set aside for the installation of solar cells may have to compete with other needs that necessitate land.

The quantity of land needed for utility-scale solar power facilities — presently about 1 km2 for every 20–60 megawatts (MW) generated — might put a burden on India’s land supply.

A widely distributed, individual rooftop power generation system, all connected via a local grid, would be better suited for most of India.

However, establishing such infrastructure, which lacks the economies of scale seen in bulk utility-scale solar panel deployment, necessitates a significant reduction in the market price of solar technology deployment in order to appeal to the individual and typical family size household user.

That may be conceivable in the future, since PV is expected to maintain its present cost reductions and compete with fossil fuels in the next decades.

Slow Progress

While the rest of the world has made significant progress in the manufacture of basic silicon mono-crystalline solar cells, India has lagged behind.

India is now rated 7th in the world for solar photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturing and 9th in solar thermal systems, trailing only Japan, China, and the United States.

Solar is the fastest increasing source of energy globally (albeit from a tiny base), with an annual average growth rate of 35% over the last several years.

Latent Potential

Because this is a densely populated region in the sunny tropical belt, the subcontinent has the ideal combination of both high solar insolation and a large potential consumer base density, some noted think-tanks recommend that India adopt a policy of developing solar power as a dominant component of the renewable energy mix.

In one of the scenarios considered, India may make renewable resources such as solar the backbone of its economy by 2050 while reducing long-term carbon emissions without jeopardizing its economic development potential.

Support from the Government

India’s government is supporting solar energy utilisation through a variety of techniques.

The government has proposed allocating Rs.10 billion to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and the formation of a Clean Energy Fund in the 2010-11 budget plan. It’s a Rs. 3.8 billion increases over the previous budget.

Additionally, the budget has aided private solar enterprises by lowering customs duties on solar panels by 5% and exempting solar photovoltaic panels from excise duty.

This is predicted to lower the number of solar panels installed on roofs by 15% to 20%.

International Solar Alliance

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization dedicated to establishing a worldwide market system for solar power and clean energy applications.

The ISA provides a multi-stakeholder ecosystem where sovereign governments, multilateral organisations, business, politicians, and innovators work together to promote the common and shared aim of fulfilling the energy demands of a secure and sustainable world, with 75 signature countries.

The Paris Declaration, which formed the ISA, declares that the nations have a common goal of reducing the cost of financing and technology for the deployment of solar power assets via creative and coordinated activities.

By mobilizing about USD 1000 billion by 2030, the ISA aspires to pave the path for future solar generating, storage, and technology for Member nations’ requirements.

The accomplishment of ISA’s goals will also enhance climate action in member nations, assisting them in meeting their pledges outlined in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The use of solar energy is the main focus.

The formation of such an alliance in Paris also sends a strong message to the international community about the developing Countrie’s commitment to address climate change and transition to a low-carbon economic path.

India has committed to installing 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, with 100 GW of solar energy, as well as a decrease in emission intensity of 33–35 percent by 2030, in order to bring solar energy to the most remote villages and communities and to create a clean world.

India pledged to generate 40% of its energy generation capacity (not actual output) from non-fossil sources (renewable, big hydro, and nuclear) by 2030 at the Paris conference.

The Tropical (torrid) zone is the area of the Earth that is between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

The sun can seem straight above in this portion of the planet, and the more direct exposure means that the sun’s real influence is stronger here; wherever north or south of this zone, sunlight always reaches the earth’s surface at an angle, and is thus less intense.

The African continent has the world’s sunniest nations, stretching from Somalia in the Horn of Africa, east to Niger, west to Egypt.

Additional benefits from the alliance for India might include a strengthening of connections with major African countries and more goodwill toward India.

At an ISA event at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the alliance joined with the World Bank to develop Global Solar Atlas.

The Global Solar Atlas is a free online tool that shows yearly average solar power potential for each place on the planet, allowing users to find possible solar power producing locations.

“This tool will save Governments millions of dollars in research and enable investors and solar developers with an easily accessible and standardized platform to analyses resource potential between sites in one area or across numerous Nations,” the World Bank said.

India, with the support of France, has urged countries to help with infrastructure for solar project execution.

The partnership has pledged a one-trillion-dollar investment and is dedicated to make solar energy more affordable to rural and inaccessible populations.

India’s target of generating 100 GW of solar energy and 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 would be supported by the alliance.

The Countries would cooperate in areas such as Research and Development and other high-level activity.

It is also viewed as an alliance of Developing Nations to build a unified front and conduct research and development for solar power equipment manufacturing inside poor Countries.

The alliance is an Intergovernmental organization founded on treaties.

The International Solar Alliance’s framework agreement was opened for signatures in November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco, on the fringes of the Marrakech Climate Change Conference (the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties, or COP 22).

India, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Guinea, Mali, Nauru, Niger, Tanzania, Tuvalu, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, and Madagascar were among the sixteen Nations that signed the Agreement on its first day (15 November).

Guinea Bissau, Fiji, and France had all signed the pact by November 17th. Sushma Swaraj, India’s External Affairs Minister, met with Mamady Toure, Guinea’s Foreign Minister, on November 6, 2017.

Mamady Toure presented Guinea’s Instrument of Accession to the India-founded International Solar Alliance at the conference (ISA). The pact was also signed by Vanuatu and Liberia.

Following then, 107 more nations signed the pact, including Mexico, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, India, Argentina, and Australia, which are all located between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

The InSPA, a conclave for the sunlight grouping, began on November 30, 2015. (International Agency for Solar Policy & Application).

The following Nations have signed the framework agreement as potential members of this alliance.

The framework has also been ratified by the countries marked with A +.

Afghanistan, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Congo, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Liberia, Luxembourg, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Morocco, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Oman, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Thailand.

On the 26th of June 2021, Greece and Israel formally joined ISA, and on the 18th of October 2021, Israel formally joined ISA.

Way Forward

Nurturing India’s solar sector is critical for influencing the future of renewable energy and controlling solar development prices at a time when indigenous manufacturers are struggling to compete with Chinese enterprises, both technically and economically.

Building local capacity and developing technology will be a defining problem for India’s solar sector in the future years. This is especially true for small-scale roof-top solar panels, which are cost-sensitive.

India remains a perfect site for an industry that might potentially push it into attaining its worldwide climate change objective as well, thanks to a plethora of innovative solar technology and new projects.

Also read: COP 26 Glasgow Summit and India: An Insight

Edited By: Advocate Komal Sharma, Publishing Editor at Law Insider

References

How Solar Industry can contribute to India’s economic growth, JAKSON

Solar Energy & Its Future Role in Indian Economy, Swami Prakash Srivastava & Surat Prakash Srivastava, International Journal of Environmental Science: Development and Monitoring, ISSN No. 2231-1289, Volume 4 No. 3 (2013)

Solar Energy to Power India of the Future, The World Bank

Solar Energy, Ministry of Renewable & Non-Renewable Energy, Government of India

International Solar Alliance, Ministry of Renewable & Non-Renewable Energy, Government of India