India has surpassed 50 GW of cumulative installed solar capacity. This ranks the country fifth in solar power deployment.
- This is a milestone in India’s journey towards generating 500 GW from renewable energy by 2030, of which 300 GW is expected to come from solar power.
GS III- Indian Economy (Energy)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Why is India falling short in roof-top solar installations?
- What are the challenges to India’s solar power capacity addition?
- What’s the state of India’s domestic solar module manufacturing capacity?
Why is India falling short in roof-top solar installations?
- The steep rise in large, ground-mounted solar energy is indicative of the strong push towards increasing the share of utility-scale solar projects across the country.
- RTS deployment stands at 6.48 GW in 2021, far short on the Union Government’s target of 40 GW of RTS by end 2022.
- The large-scale solar PV focus fails to exploit the many benefits of decentralised renewable energy (DRE) options, including reduction in transmission and distribution (T&D) losses.
- One of the primary benefits of solar PV technology is that it can be installed at the point of consumption, significantly reducing the need for large capital-intensive transmission infrastructure.
- This is not an either/or situation; India needs to deploy both large and smaller-scale solar PV, and particularly needs to expand RTS efforts.
Challenges in roof-top solar installations:
- Limited financing for residential consumers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who want to install RTS.
- Lukewarm responses from electricity distribution companies (DISCOMS) to supporting net metering, RTS continues to see low uptake across the country.
What can be done to increase roof-top solar installations?
- Governments, utilities, and banks will need to explore innovative financial mechanisms that bring down the cost of loans and reduce the risk of investment for lenders.
- Increased awareness, and affordable finance for RTS projects could potentially ensure the spread of RTS across the scores of SMEs and homes around the country.
- Aggregating roof spaces could also help reduce overall costs of RTS installations and enable developing economies of scale.
What are the challenges to India’s solar power capacity addition?
- Despite significant growth in the installed solar capacity, the contribution of solar energy to the country’s power generation has not grown at the same pace.
- In 2019-20, for instance, solar power contributed only 3.6% (50 billion units) of India’s total power generation of 1390 BU.
The utility-scale solar PV sector continues to face challenges like
- High land costs,
- High T&D losses and other inefficiencies,
- Grid integration challenges,
- Conflicts with local communities and biodiversity protection norms.
- Also, while India has achieved record low tariffs for solar power generation in the utility-scale segment, this has not translated into cheaper power for end-consumers.
What’s the state of India’s domestic solar module manufacturing capacity?
- Domestic manufacturing capacities in the solar sector do not match up to the present potential demand for solar power in the country.
- Crisil’s report on the subject highlights that as on March 31, 2021, India had 3 GW capacity for solar cell production and 8 GW for solar panel production capacity.
- Moreover, backward integration in the solar value chain is absent as India has no capacity for manufacturing solar wafers and polysilicon.
- In 2021-22, India imported nearly $76.62 billion worth solar cells and modules from China alone, accounting for 78.6% of India’s total imports that year.
- Low manufacturing capacities, coupled with cheaper imports from China have rendered Indian products uncompetitive in the domestic market.
- This situation can, however, be corrected if India embraces a circular economy model for solar systems.
-Source: The Hindu