Today with many different sectors, India has also been in one of most important country in solar field. According to recent data, India has emerged the world’s number one, along with United States of America, in annual solar power generation. As per Global market survey ended in May 2010, has stated India has one of the world’s highest solar intensities with an annual solar energy yield of 1,700 to 1,900 KW hours per kilowatt peak of the installed capacity.

Solar energy refers to energy from the sun. The sun has produced energy for billions of years. It is most important source of energy for life forms. It is a renewable energy source unlike other non-renewable energy sources like fossil-fuels. Solar energy technologies use sun energy for homes, electricity and many other purposes. The main benefit of solar energy is that it doesn’t produce any pollutants and is one of the cleanest source of energy. This requires low maintenance and easy to install. The only limitation solar energy possesses is that it cannot be used during nights and amount of sunlight that is received on earth is depends on location, time and weather conditions.

Solar power in India is the fast-growing industry and as of 30 September 2016, the country solar grid has a cumulative capacity of 8.63 gigawatts (GW). In January 2015, the government expanded its solar plans, targeting US $100 billion of investment and 100 GW of solar capacity, including 40 GW directly from rooftop solar by 2022. India being a tropical country has huge potential for solar energy generation.

Solar energy is genesis for all forms of energy. This energy can be made use of in two ways the Thermal route i.e. using heat for drying, heating, cooking or generation of electricity or through the Photovoltaic route which converts solar energy in to electricity that can be used for a myriad purpose such as lighting, pumping and generation of electricity. With its pollution free nature, virtually inexhaustible supply and global distribution- solar energy is very attractive energy resource.

India’s Solar Energy Potential

According to government-developed India energy security scenarios, India can achieve 479GW of Solar power by 2047. This energy eventually drives India Economic growth. Solar energy represents 2.5% of net installed power generation capacity in India, up from 1.4% a year ago. With around 300 days of sunshine every year, India has among the best conditions in the world to harness solar energy.

Given the country present high dependence on imported fossil fuels for meeting its ever-growing energy demand, India has little choice but to harness solar energy for achieving energy supply security. In addition to a perennial power deficit situation faced by the country, around 300-400 million Indians do not access to electricity. Hence, increase in share of renewable energy in the overall energy mix is critical for achieving energy security and resultant sustainable development.

Several steps had been taken to harness solar energy:

Punjab Energy Development Agency was formed in Sept 1991 as state nodal agency for promotion and development of renewable energy program/projects and energy conservation programme in the state of Punjab. PEDA is registered as a society under the societies act of 1860.

  1. India’s First solar plant was started in Punjab, The Punjab government had allotted 5 Solar power plans to Punj Lloyd. It had been setup with collaboration of U.S Based Sun power Corporation and Enterprise Business Solutions.
  2. The Eco-friendly projects will set up under Indian government Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.
  3. India is already home to the world’s largest single-location solar power plant which has been setup by Adani Group at Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu.
  4. The solar power tariff rates have been consistently falling since 2010is now on track to compete with cheap fossil fuels.
  5. Solar Energy Corporation of India called for bids to install 1GW of rooftop solar power projects on central government Buildings.
  6. Huge advancements have been made in the past few years-in terms of solar energy specifically and renewable energy in general
  7. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance Report, the solar sector has had an impressive compound annual growth rate of 59% in the last fiscal years.
  8. International Solar alliance is a right move foe realizing solar dream of our nation.

To achieve all goals in the solar sector, Indian Government has also given financial assistance in many ways. Some of them are:

  1. The World Bank Group also have committed to provide US $ 1 Billion for India’s Solar energy projects.
  2. The SBI has signed an agreement with the World Bank for Rs 4,200 crore credit facility, aimed at financing Grid Connected Roof Top Solar Photovoltaic projects in India.
  3. And, the ministry of New and Renewable Energy has signed an agreement with Germany-based Development Bank to fund the Rs 300 crore floating solar project.
  4. Sun Edison, world’s largest renewable energy company, plans to continue its focus on “Make in India” by developing solar projects in India by 2022

The Government has also taken initiative steps in additional help of companies. Some of them are:

  1. Wider adoption of Roof-top Solar power generation.
  2. The Ministry of shipping plans to install solar based power systems at all the major ports across the country by 2017.
  3. The Government of India has announced a massive renewable power production target of 175,000MW by 2022 of which100,000 MW is from solar power.
  4. The Government of India is taking several steps and initiatives like 10-year tax exemption for solar energy projects.
  5. The National Solar Mission aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation.
  6. Renewable Energy Certificates that provide an incentive to those who generate green power by providing financial incentives for every unit of power they generate.
  7. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), which provides 30 per cent subsidy to most solar powered items such as solar lamps and solar heating systems, has further extended its subsidy scheme to solar-powered cold storages.

Challenges that are faced:

  1. Lack of easy and cheap funding, and increasing cheap imports from China and Taiwan is hurting the domestic industry.
  2. Per Capita land availability is very low in India, and land is a scare resource.
  3. The fundamental re-structuring of the country’s power and energy infrastructure will be its biggest challenge.
  4. Cost associated with solar power generation is more when compared to coal.
  5. Manufacturers are mostly focused on export markets that buy solar PV cells. This could result in reduced supplies for the local market.
  6. Many investors are asking deeper questions about viability. Nearly one square kilometer of land is needed to put up a 40-60 MW solar plant. Such large chunks of land are not readily available except in isolated areas from which evacuation of power becomes even more difficult.
  7. Competition from Ultra Super Critical Coal Power Generation plants which are cheaper, lesser emissions and higher efficiency.
  8. People are not aware of about benefits of cleaner sources of energy and hence still depend on traditional source of energy.

Solar Power is not the panacea for India’s energy needs. Solar Power has its own share of in terms of its effect on overall grid stability. India still must make available the necessary capital for developing renewable energy infrastructure. Several structural issues in the distribution of power needed to be addressed. As a NITI Aayog expert group report notes” A Probable re-engineering of institutions, the redefinition of policies, the re-tuning of power-systems, and the replacement of old habits with new ones” required. Decentralize solar plants to minimize transmission and distribution losses. Increase the availability of private financing and build capacity for solar roof top units. The Sun provides a very abundant supply of energy that is available to all of us. This energy from the sun is completely under used. If we covered only 4 % of the world’s desert area with solar panels, this would supply the same as all the world’s electricity today. Considering how much we rely on fossil fuels this is far under-utilized.

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