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Achieving India’s Solar Potential

Why does India need to develop its solar potential?

1.India’s per capita consumption of electricity stands at a meagre 1,100 kWh/year which is much lower compared to other large economies like the US and China.

2. Demand for power is set to rise further with increasing rates of urbanization and industrial growth.

3. Plugging this demand supply gap by augmenting capacity in the power sector is a key priority for the policy makers.

4. Traditional sources of energy are nearing their saturation levels.

5. India must honor its global commitments on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, as per the Paris Agreement.

6. India has huge potential for harnessing renewable energy especially solar since almost the entire country is blessed with abundant sunlight throughout the year.

What has been done by India so far?

1. The Indian Government has set the renewables capacity target at 175GW to be achieved by the year 2022, with the highest percentage 100 GW to be contributed by solar power.

2. India has already added 28GW solar capacity while the compound annual growth rate has reached as high as 55%.

3. Launch of the International Solar Alliance was also a significant step to strengthen this sector.

4. Setting up solar parks and providing viability gap funding support.

5. Introduction of schemes like KUSUM (aiming to harness solar power for agriculture) and SRISTI (catalyzing adoption of rooftop solar solutions).

Which areas need attention and focus?

Technology:

1. Rooftop solar solutions can add large capacities but need push from state governments.

2. Floating solar (solar panels mounted on structures that float on water bodies), and BPIV (wherein the conventional materials used for facades and roofs of buildings are replaced by photovoltaic systems).

3. Emphasis on R&D and adoption of latest technology.

Policy Push:

1. Need to move towards healthier tariffs to help private players work with sustainable business models.

3. Attract higher capital inflow.

4. Respective state governments should also accentuate the rate of solar power generation with regular capacity addition.

Discom Health:

1. The power distribution companies form a crucial link in the cycle of energy generation.

2. The healthier the distribution companies, the more power they can purchase and supply.

3. Discoms should be strengthened so that they are able to support tariffs and settle power providers’ dues on time.

Financial Reforms:

1. Reforms in the banking sector.

2. Renewables should be categorized as a separate sector as it has clocked exponential growth and can contribute handsome revenues to the exchequer.

3. This will help widen access to funds and simplify the process of loan procurement for companies.

4. Priority sector status can also be helpful for renewable energy resources.

Enabling Ease of Doing Business:

1. Faster processing of approvals for project implementation across the value chain such as conversion approvals of land in different states.

Where lies the solution?

1. Achieving the ambitious target of 100 GW solar power by 2022 needs a collaborative effort from all stakeholders.

2. Government also needs to provide proper policy support and act as a central coordinating unit to catalyze solar industry’s growth.