India's Solar Energy
Indian solar power or solar power in India is a rapidly growing industry and ranks among the world’s top three nations in solar energy production. The country’s solar installed capacity was 30.071 GW as of July 31, 2019.
India has the lowest capital cost per megawatt (MW) to install the solar power plants, which makes the country the cheapest producer of solar power. The Indian government has set the target of 100 GW capacity for 2022, and so far it has reached 30% of that target.
One of the tropical countries in the world, India receives solar radiation of almost 3,000 hours of sunshine throughout the year which is equivalent to more than 5,000 trillion kWh. The main reason why the country is an ideal place to generate electricity from solar energy. Some states in India that have a great potential for tapping solar energy due to their location include Orissa, Andhra, Bihar, Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Punjab.
However, India as a rapidly growing economy with almost more than 1 billion population is also facing a large amount of energy demand. When it comes to electricity production and consumption, India stands on the fifth spot worldwide. As the production of electricity continues expanding over the years the population of the country is also expanding continuously, the reason why energy supply must be prioritized to increase the inability to match the country’s needs and demands. Until now there is still more than 72 percent of the population living in villages and half of the villages live in a home without a supply of electricity.
Almost 53 percent of the power being produced in the country is coming from coal however, it was predicted that the coal reserves of the country won’t last beyond the year 2040 to 2050. With this, India focused its interest more on renewable energy, energy efficiency and power conservation. To meet this rising demand, they think solar energy is the best form of energy to generate in order to fulfill the country’s energy needs and also served as the bridge of the demand-supply energy gap.
Solar power in India is considered as one of the fast-growing solar industry worldwide. In fact, India ranks among the world’s top three nations in terms of solar energy production. As of August 2019, the country managed to achieve a solar installed capacity of 30.709 GW.
Furthermore, India has the lowest capital cost per megawatt (MW) to install solar power plants all over the globe, the reason why the country is considered the cheapest producer of solar power. The Indian government already reached the 30 percent target of the planned 100 GW capacity target for 2022 which was achieved four years ahead of the scheduled. This 100 GW solar capacity includes 40 GW from rooftop solar along with this a 100 billion US dollar target investment. The rooftop solar power accounts for 2.1 GW wherein almost 70 percent of it is commercial or industrial solar power. As of now, India has established almost 42 solar parks for the promoters of solar plants.
India was able to expand its solar generation capacity by 8 times, from only 2,650 MW in May 2014 to over 20 GW as of January 2018. In the year 2015 to 2016, India managed to add a solar capacity of 3 GW, another 5 GW from 2016 to 2017 while over 10 GW was added in its solar capacity by the year 2017 to 2018 with the average current price of its solar electricity dropping to 18 percent below the coal-fired’s average price.
Moreover, India is also developing an off-grid solar power for local energy needs aside from its large-scale grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) initiative. Solar products have significantly helped Indians to meet their rural needs and at the end of the year 2015, less than one million solar lanterns were sold in the country that reduced the need for kerosene. In the same year, there were 118,700 solar home lighting systems installed while the national program provided 46,655 solar street lighting installations. In addition to that, almost 1.4 million solar cookers were also distributed in India.
Potential of Solar Power in India
Earth receives energy from the sun at the rate of approximately 1,73,000 TW. This significantly exceeds the current yearly global energy consumption rate of about 15 TW. In India, solar power is engaging because aside from its abundant energy, it also provides a solution to fossil fuel emissions and global climate change. India as both being a densely populated country and has high solar insolation focused on providing an ideal combination for solar power in the country.
In terms of solar power, India has a prominent and great potential to generate electricity from solar energy, as a matter of fact, the country is on track to appear as the core of solar energy. In India, the techno-commercial of Photovoltaics has significantly large potential with GDP growth in excess of 8 percent, the energy gap between the supply and demand will be extended in the next coming years. Furthermore, solar photovoltaic is the renewable energy source that is capable of bridging this energy supply-demand gap. The majority of regions in India have 300 to 330 sunny days in a year, which is equivalent enough to over 5000 trillion kWh per year that the country needed. In fact, this is more than the total energy consumption per year of India.
The average solar rate stands at a robust 4 to 7 kWh/sq.meter per day and about 66 MW of aggregate capacity is being installed for some various applications including one million industrial photovoltaic systems, wherein the 80 percent compromising home/street lighting systems, solar lanterns, and solar water pumps, etc. The Ministry for the solar PV programme has been estimated that solar lanterns, solar street/home lighting systems are around 20 MW/sq. kilometer.
In addition to the country’s large-scale production of power from wind turbines, they also proposed some large-scale solar power projects to supply power in the whole country. A 35,000 km² area of the Thar Desert has been set for solar power projects, which is only enough to generate 700 to 2,100 GW. The India Energy Portal estimated that the installed solar capacity will reach 8,000GW or around fifty times the current total installed power capacity in the country if and only if 10 percent of their land were used for harnessing solar energy. Assuming that a 10 percent efficiency conversion for photovoltaic modules will still be a thousand times greater and efficient than the likely electricity demand in India in 2015.
Advantages and Drawbacks of India's Solar Power
Advantages of Solar Power in India
- This the most abundant source of energy and a great replacement for fossil fuels and other conventional sources of energy in India.
- Solar power is abundant. In energy deficient country like India, where power generation is highly expensive, solar energy is the best alternative means of off-grid electricity.
- Solar energy is harmless to both the environment and human and it is one of the cleaner and greener sources of energy.
- It does not release CO2 and other harmful gases that can pollute the air. Thus, it can reduce pollutions in India, as it is being listed as one of the most polluted countries in the world.
- Solar energy has a lot of purposes. It can be used for heating, drying, cooking and for providing electricity across the country, particularly in the rural areas in India.
- It is also ideal in the urban population as it can also be used in different transportations like cars, planes, large powerboats, including satellites, calculators and many more solar devices.
- A solar energy system is easy to install, anywhere. (houses, commercial buildings and other infrastructures). And, it is way cheaper as compared to other sources of energy.
Drawbacks of Solar Energy in India
- Sunlight is intermittent. Solar energy cannot be generated during the night time and sometimes during day time when t’s too cloudy or it is raining. Solar energy panels are still less reliable.
- Only those areas that receive good amount of sunlight are ideal for solar energy production.
- Some solar devices like solar panels require inverters and storage batteries to convert energy and to generate electricity. These added equipment are mostly expensive compared to the installation.
- Installing solar plants and farms with solar panels need a larger land space. That land space cannot be used for other purposes, solely for solar plants only.
- Solar panels require considerable maintenance as they are fragile and can be easily damaged. Extra expenses are incurred as additional insurance costs.
Highlights: Solar Power in India
In the solar energy sector, as of now, a variety of large projects have been proposed in India.
- The best solar power project in India is the Thar Desert which estimated to generate 700 to 2,100 GW.
- The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, inaugurated at Diken in Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh, India’s biggest solar power plan, last March 2014.
- By the year 2020, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) launched by the Centre will be targeting 20,000 MW of solar energy.
- Gujarat’s pioneering solar power policy aims at 1,000 MW of solar energy generation.
- $19 billion solar power plan was unveiled in July 2009, which is predicted to produce 20 GW of solar power by the year 2020.
- Almost 66 MW solar power system is installed in India, particularly in the rural area for various applications such as solar lanterns, street lighting systems and solar water pumps, etc.
Reviews about Solar Power in India
Why India’s Renewables Strategy Should Look Beyond Solar Power
Solar Powers India’s Future
India: A leader in the global solar energy market
INDIA: The Power of the Sun
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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday praised India’s ingenuity and cutting-edge technology while dedicating Gujarat’s second canal-top 10-MW solar power project to the nation. The solar panels are arranged on top of the Vadodara branch of the Sardar Sarovar project canal, probably a first-of-its-kind project in the world to generate power.
In a brief address, Mr. Ban said he was honoured to inaugurate “this impressive project” and commended the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Looking at the canal top, he said he saw “more than the glittering panels — he saw the future of India and the future of our world. This facility shows how one project can have multiple uses of conserving land and using renewables.”
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