India enjoys 300 days of sunshine in a year and seems to be pacing faster than ever towards its commitment of improving solar energy generation.

A boost to India’s plans to make the best of its sunshine has been its recent agreement with the World Bank Group. The country will receive $1 billion to take forward its plans in solar power generation. Last year, India and France launched a 121 country-strong International Solar Alliance at the Paris Summit to bring in $1 trillion in investment for the sector.

Rise of Solar Power

The growth of solar power in the last decade has been exponential in India. While in 2005 the country’s solar power generation stood at a mere 6.40 MW, by May 2016, this figure saw a phenomenal surge and was at 7,568 MW. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission set up by the government in 2010 aimed at deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022. But India has already set its goals higher and updated its target to 100,000 MW by 2022- which is five times more than the country’s goal a few years ago.

According to Mercom Captial, a clean energy research firm solar panels installations were to double in 2016 to more than 4 GW. By the end of FY2015­16, solar represented 2.5% of net installed power generation capacity in India, up from 1.4 % a year ago, and solar power is the fastest growing new energy source in the country.

A Promising Sector

Even investments in solar power have been rising with the private sector’s keenness in being part of this growth. A 2013 report from A.T Kearney (pdf) foresees ‘several billion-dollar solar-centric firms within a decade’ in India. “India’s solar potential is real enough – and support environment is improving fast enough– to forecast a $6 billon to $7 billion capital equipment market and close to $4 billion in annual revenues for grid connected solar generators in the next decade,” the report stated.

But every year, India’s solar energy market seems to outdo predictions and look more hopeful than expected. The Indian government in the last two years has set a target of attracting as much as $100 billion in the sector in the next six years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to increase India’s solar capacity with investments from countries such as China, Japan, Germany and the USA.

The growth also means that the cost of solar power is constantly reducing making it affordable. The solar grid parity is likely to be achieved by 2019, this means solar energy could cost as much as or lesser than conventional sources of energy in India three years.

Need for Power

A reason for the growth in the renewable source is the vast demand for power in a country like India – that is looking to improve its economic growth, has a large population and yet continues to face power outages. As many as 300 million people in parts of the nation still have no access to basic electricity. The country requires 1,068,923 million units of electricity every year, but is short on supply by 3.6%.

Clean Energy

When compared with conventional sources of energy, solar power provides an environmentally viable option. It can bridge the gap and reduce India’s current dependence on coal. For as much as 60% of its energy needs India depends on coal power plants, an unsustainable source in the long run given that the demand for power will only increase. But India’s location near the equator means 3000 sunny days, which if fully exploited could produce 5000 trillion kWh of energy!

India’s eagerness to increase the contribution of energy from renewable sources such solar and wind also reflect its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. It ranks third in the list of greenhouse gas polluters in the world following the US and China. Moving towards clean energy can help the country slash about 2.6 % of its total emissions every year while it makes power accessible and affordable to all.

This year, India will overtake the UK, Germany and France to become the fourth largest solar energy market in the world. The Indian government’s commitment on scaling up solar energy means the sun won’t set on the sector anytime soon.

 

Elizabeth Raj |Blogger- Arsha Consulting

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