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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 02 July 2024

  1. India’s Solar Industry is a Goldmine for Investors
  2. India Needs the Anchor of a National Security Strategy


Context:

India’s solar energy sector is experiencing unprecedented growth, emerging as a lucrative opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs. Valued at $38 billion in 2021, the market is projected to expand significantly, reaching $238 billion by 2032, driven by a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40 percent.

Relevance:

GS3-

  • Solar Energy
  • Renewable Energy
  • Infrastructure

GS2- Government Policies and Interventions

Mains Question:

The surge in global demand for renewable energy has placed solar power at the centre stage, particularly in India. In this context, examine the potential of the solar energy market in India as a lucrative spot for investors and entrepreneurs. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Factors that have led to this Feat:

  • The surge in global demand for renewable energy has positioned solar power at the forefront, particularly in India, supported by favorable government policies, technological advancements, and a growing emphasis on sustainability.
  • Technological innovations are pivotal to the sector’s success. Commercial solar panels have become more efficient in converting sunlight into electricity, maximizing power generation per square foot.
  • The transition from polycrystalline to advanced bifacial solar panels, capable of generating electricity from both sides, underscores the industry’s focus on enhancing efficiency.
  • In India, while PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell) technology has dominated the solar panel market, there is a gradual shift towards more advanced technologies like TOPCon (Tunnel Oxide Passivated Contact) and HJT (Heterojunction Technology), driven by their superior efficiency in mass production.
  • Government policies have played a crucial role in transforming India’s solar energy landscape. The Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes, with significant financial allocations (PLI-I with Rs. 4,500 crores and PLI-II with Rs. 19,500 crores), aim to boost domestic manufacturing of solar components.
  • Supporting the “Make in India” initiative, the reinstatement of the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) from April 1, 2024, ensures quality control and promotes the use of domestically manufactured modules.
  • Initiatives by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), such as the CPSU Scheme Phase-II, PM-KUSUM Component B, and the Grid-connected Rooftop Solar Programme Phase-II, mandate the use of Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) solar panels, offering subsidies to encourage solar energy adoption and support local manufacturing.
  • In 2023, India surpassed Japan in solar power production, generating 113 billion units (BU) compared to Japan’s 110 BU. China retains its position as the top global producer of solar power, generating 584 BU in 2024, exceeding the combined output of the next four countries: the United States, Japan, Germany, and India.
  • India currently ranks fifth globally in installed solar power capacity, boasting 73 gigawatts (GW) of capacity. The global solar generation expanded more than sixfold from 2015, whereas India’s solar generation increased by a factor of 17 during the same period.
  • Solar power now constitutes 18% of India’s total installed electricity capacity, although it accounts for only 6.66% of the actual electricity produced, highlighting a gap between installed capacity and effective output.

Environmental Impact:

  • The solar sector in India goes beyond meeting energy needs; it also contributes positively to the environment.
  • By increasing the use of solar power and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, the industry helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.
  • Transitioning to renewable energy sources like solar power is crucial for India’s climate objectives and ensuring a sustainable future.
  • Recent years have seen a significant decrease in the cost of solar energy, making it increasingly economical as a source of energy.
  • Solar energy systems are becoming more reliable and durable, requiring minimal maintenance over their lifespan.
  • Solar energy can be utilized for a wide range of applications, including electricity generation, heating, and lighting.
  • Solar energy systems can be implemented on a small scale, allowing for local energy generation and reducing reliance on centralized energy sources.

Market Potential and Investment Opportunities:

  • India’s solar energy market offers abundant opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs alike.
  • The sector’s rapid expansion and growing acceptance of solar power for both commercial and residential applications highlight its vast potential.
  • With government backing and ongoing technological advancements, entry barriers are lowering, making it an attractive prospect for new ventures.
  • Moreover, advancements in technology are enhancing efficiency and driving down costs, which in turn boosts profitability.
  • Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to explore various segments within the industry.
  • Recently, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, has committed USD 105 million to partially finance a 550 Megawatt peak (MWp) solar power project in Rajasthan.
  • MWp denotes the maximum power output capacity of a solar or wind project, which varies based on factors like sunlight intensity and wind speed.
  • The investment aims to facilitate affordable solar electricity prices for businesses and industries throughout India via long-term energy contracts, thereby supporting the country’s goals to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Conclusion:

On a broader scale, the global shift towards sustainability ensures a consistent demand for solar energy solutions, offering businesses a promising path for long-term growth. Combined with India’s robust market potential, government support, and technological innovation, the solar industry presents compelling opportunities for those seeking to invest or establish ventures in renewable energy.



Context:

The newly elected government faces persistent challenges in national security. It must decide whether to build another aircraft carrier, how to implement theaterisation, manage strategic relations with the United States, and navigate competition with China. Given the coalition’s competing demands on resources and attention, its best approach is to consider national security comprehensively from first principles.

Relevance:

GS3-

  • Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas
  • Various Security Forces & Agencies and Their Mandate

Mains Question:

A National Security Strategy would provide the essential intellectual framework for India to emerge as one of the world’s leading powers. Comment. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

A Systemic National Security Strategy (NSS):

  • A National Security Strategy (NSS) document outlines the country’s security objectives and the methods to achieve them.
  • An NSS should address both traditional threats (affecting only the state) and non-traditional threats (affecting the state, individuals, and humanity as a whole).
  • Additionally, it must operate within the framework of India’s Constitution and democratic principles.
  • The strategy typically includes assessments of potential threats, resource allocation, diplomatic and military actions, and policies related to intelligence, defense, and other security-related areas.
  • Most major powers have a national security strategy, but India does not. As a result, investment decisions in capabilities are often determined by negotiations among military services, leading to plans and priorities becoming stagnant and seldom reassessed systematically.
  • Grand strategic vision remains in the hands of a few top officials, often obscured from public view or overshadowed by other political agendas.
  • India cannot afford to remain reactive. The world is presenting numerous strategic risks, from climate change to pandemics, which demand decades of coordinated policy effort.
  • China, in particular, poses a unique array of interconnected challenges, including a rapid naval build-up, significant geoeconomic influence in South Asia, and control over global supply chains.
  • Even distant conflicts, such as those in Ukraine and Gaza, are introducing new technologies and tactics of war that will inevitably affect India’s neighborhood.
  • India needs a systematic process to understand and plan for these upheavals.

Benefits of a National Security Strategy:

  • A well-crafted National Security Strategy (NSS) would provide India with five crucial benefits it currently lacks.
  • First and foremost, it would compel the government to conduct a comprehensive strategic assessment—a review of the country’s threats and opportunities, along with an evaluation of global security trends.
  • Such a periodic review would highlight evolving challenges, like the growth of the Chinese navy, even if they do not pose an immediate lethal threat.
  • Without an NSS, long-term threats may be ignored until they become immediate and severe, making them much more difficult to address.
  • Second, an NSS would offer a cohesive framework for long-term planning.
  • Strategic competition requires extensive peacetime efforts to conceptualize how best to secure India’s expanding interests, deter its adversaries, and develop the necessary military capabilities and international partnerships.
  • A rigorously developed NSS would provide the government with a strategic blueprint to make decisions, such as whether to prioritize the Indian Navy’s request for a new aircraft carrier or the Indian Army’s need for a new infantry division.
  • Without such a process, scarce resources might be squandered on projects with limited strategic value, leaving the military to address capability gaps through emergency procurements.
  • Third, an NSS would serve as a tool for signaling to both allies and adversaries. It would clarify India’s strategic intentions, such as its commitment to being a net security provider in the Indian Ocean and its readiness to counter armed coercion against smaller nations.
  • An NSS would also elucidate India’s policy for its partners, highlighting areas of mutual interest and explaining the limitations of cooperation to avoid mismatched expectations.
  • Fourth, an NSS would create a mechanism to synchronize the efforts of various government branches.
  • Within the military, an NSS would give the Integrated Defence Staff and future joint organizations a clear top-down mandate to align the activities of the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy.
  • Beyond the military, an NSS would set common goals and plans, enabling national security agencies—including the Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, and Home Affairs, and the intelligence agencies—to coordinate more effectively on a daily basis, rather than sporadically at the Cabinet level.

Issue of Accountability:

  • Finally, an NSS would introduce a new accountability tool, ensuring that the bureaucracy aligns with the political leadership’s intentions and that government policies are as transparent as possible to Parliament and the public.
  • Indian citizens have a legitimate need to know how their government plans to safeguard national security and how effectively it is doing so.

Conclusion:

Some national security strategies are more effective than others. An effective strategy should be a public document endorsed by the Prime Minister, aimed at synchronizing efforts across the government and credibly signaling the government’s political intent domestically and internationally. While a strong NSS would not automatically resolve conflicts between various government branches, it would at least highlight trade-offs and opportunity costs, enabling political leaders to make rational decisions for long-term growth. Thus, an NSS would provide the essential intellectual framework for India to emerge as one of the world’s leading powers.


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