With traditional sources of energy depleting vast, exploring the potential and reach of renewable energy has become of utmost importance of every country in world. For a developing country like India, making power affordable and accessible to its vast population across the country has always been a huge challenge. About 300 million people in India has no access to electricity, while additionally more than 100 million have scarce resources available with them. 60% of the power generation in India is coal based, followed by hydro energy (approx. 20%) while renewable energy constitutes 16% of the share.
Solar power holds more than 50% of renewable energy generated in India. As of October, 2017 the country's solar grid had a cumulative capacity of 15.60 GW. The solar-generation capacity of India quadrupled from 2,650 MW on 26 May 2014 to 12,289 MW on 31 March 2017. 3.01 GW of solar capacity was added in 2015-2016 followed by 5.525 GW in 2016-2017, which is the highest for any year.
Unlike coal, Solar energy doesn’t create pollution and hence generate clean power. The energy is available in abundance throughout the world and has low maintenance cost.
Potential in India
The geographical footprints of the country ensure that a major part of the country receives sunlight all through the year. This makes India a preferred destination for solar energy development.
Many Initiatives are being implemented to promote usage of solar energy in India. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was launched on the 11th January, 2010 by the then Prime Minister of India.
Objective of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar mission
To fulfil the stated objectives, the Mission has adopted a 3-phase approach:
The Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI) was set up in September, 2011, under the administrative control of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), for implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and achievement of targets set therein.
India has been continuously making efforts to make renewable energy cheap, which has resulted in considerable drop in solar prices.
The major challenge of the sector is to attract investment in renewable energy sector, the growth of which is still confined by high interest rates. Also, allotment of land remains a problem in the agricultural dominated country.
India has an ambitious target of generating 100 GW of Solar energy by 2022, which means the sector needs to grow by a CAGR of 52% to achieve the target. Currently, Indian solar sector is growing quite rapidly, reflected by approximately 90% year-on-year growth projection in 2017 (in capacity addition). To popularise it's usage, a major push is being given to rooftop solar plants, the first of which was inaugurated recently in Delhi.
The promotion of Solar energy can also facilitate rural electrification in India. The rural areas are still dependent mainly on kerosene and diesel for their daily and agriculture related needs. Though more than 3 million solar lanterns have been distributed, the demand exceeds far beyond supply.