[Solved]India has immense potential of solar energy though there are regional variations in its developments. Elaborate. (UPSC GS-1 Mains 2020)

The assessed Solar energy capability of India where the vast majority of its parts get plentiful Solar radiation is around 750 GW sun-based force. Tackling solar energy is one of the significant parts of its sustainable power procedure.

It dispatched the National Solar Mission (NSM) to set up itself as a worldwide innovator in sun based energy outlining arrangements to expediently diffuse sun based endeavors and advancements the nation over.

potential of solar energy though there are regional variations

  • Solar power in India is a fast developing industry. The country’s solar installed capacity reached 35.12 GW as of 30 June 2020. India has the lowest capital cost per MW globally of installing solar power plants.
  • The Indian government had an initial target of 20 GW capacity for 2022, which was achieved four years ahead of schedule.
  • In 2015 the target was raised to 100 GW of solar capacity (including 40 GW from rooftop solar) by 2022, targeting an investment of US$100 billion.
  • India has established nearly 42 solar parks to make land available to the promoters of solar plants. In the decade ending 31 March 2020, India expanded its installed solar power capacity by 233 times from 161 MW to 37,627 MW.
  • Rooftop solar power accounts for 2.1 GW, of which 70% is industrial or commercial. In addition to its large-scale grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) initiative, India is developing off-grid solar power for local energy needs.
  • Solar products have increasingly helped to meet rural needs; by the end of 2015, just under one million solar lanterns were sold in the country, reducing the need for kerosene.
  • That year, 118,700 solar home lighting systems were installed and 46,655 solar street lighting installations were provided under a national program; just over 1.4 million solar cookers were distributed in India.
  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA), proposed by India as a founder member, is headquartered in India. India has also put forward the concept of “One Sun One World one Grid” to harness abundant solar power on global scale

Need of solar energy

Energy security:

  • India energy demands is largely fulfilled by non-renewable source of energy.
  • The scarcity of these fossil resources stresses the need for renewable energy sources.
  • Abundance of solar energy can fulfill India clean energy demands.
  • India is dependent on imports to fulfill its energy demands, thereby incurring huge expenditure and uncertainty with regards to energy security.

Economic development:

  • India being a developing economy needs proper electricity for industrial growth and agriculture.
  • India also needs self sufficiency and minimal cost in power generation, assured regular supply, which will boost industries and economy.

Social development:

  • The problem of power cuts and unavailability of electricity especially in rural area, leads to improper human development.
  • Mostly energy demands are fulfilled by subsidised kerosene, leading to loss for exchequer.
  • Environment concern:
  • India’s large part of energy demand is fulfilled by thermal energy largely dependent on fossil fuels.
  • It also causes environment pollution
  • Solar energy is clean form of energy resource, which can be a substitute.

Despite the fact that there are provincial varieties connected to variable adaptabilities of the force frameworks at the local level, various degrees of local disaggregation, all DISCOMs going about as territorial restraining infrastructures, all out interregional bandwidth thinking about the discontinuous idea of sunlight based energy, as far as possible across the areas inferable from a blend of thermodynamics and saw climatic factors, utilizing different methods for sun based nuclear energy stations, network reconciliation issues, and mixtures consolidating components of sun powered energy with others.

The provincial lattice incorporation expects headway to oblige the focused on 175 GW of sustainable power. Putting forth attempts to adapt viably to them, India is attempting to decrease offtake hazard, address an income deficiency, limit defers identified with land securing, solidify “one country one matrix”, advance cleaner cooking and off-network zap arrangements, support a shift toward utilizing sun oriented photovoltaics (PV) for cooking and charging batteries, and concentrate most from the sun based park and the framework associated sun based roof plans.

Does Installing 100 GW of solar power by 2022 achievable target?

  • The government would recognise, the idea of building a domestic solar manufacturing industry that delivers increasing volumes of quality photovoltaic cells, modules and associated equipment is long in the tooth.
  • India’s installed base of this green power source is about 35 gigawatts (GW), and its projected addition of capacity until 2024 in a COVID-19 affected future is estimated by the industry to be of the order of 50 GW.
  • Viewed against the goals set five years ago for the Paris Agreement on climate, of installing 100 GW of solar power by 2022, there could be a sharp deficit.
  • Combined with low domestic cell manufacturing capacity at 3.1 GW last year, and heavy reliance on China, high ambition must now be supported by aggressive official policy.
  • The Chinese story is one of a steady rise from insignificant manufacturing capability in the 1990s, to virtual dominance through active government support in identifying and acquiring top technologies globally, importing critical raw materials such as polysilicon, acquiring solar manufacturers abroad, and investing in third countries with ready capability.
  • Importantly, the domestic market was treated with great importance while promoting exports.


  • Solar Energy is available throughout the day which is the peak load demand time.
  • Solar energy conversion equipments have longer life and need lesser maintenance and hence provide higher energy infrastructure security.
  • Low running costs & grid tie-up capital returns (Net Metering).
  • Unlike conventional thermal power generation from coal, they do not cause pollution and generate clean power.
  • Abundance of free solar energy in almost all parts of country.
  • No overhead wires- no transmission loss

Challenges in adoption

  • India’s solar story is largely built over imported products.
  • India’s domestic content requirement clause ia facing legal challenge at WTO.
  • India is facing challenge to balance Prioritising domestic goals and WTO commitments.
  • The dumping of products is leading to profit erosion of local manufacturers.
  • Indian domestic manufacturers aren’t technically and economically strong to compete with Chinese companies.
  • China’s strong manufacturing base is giving stiff challenge to domestic manufacturer.
  • Land availability in India for solar plant is less due to high population density.
  • India’s solar waste is estimated to be around 1.8 million by 2050 also needs to be tackled.

How china is Dealing ?

Core competence

  • The six largest Chinese manufacturers had core technical competence in manufacturing solar cells.
  • When the solar industry in China began to grow, Chinese companies already possessed the know-how.
  • Indian companies had no learning background in semiconductors when the solar industry in India began to grow from 2011.

Government policy

  • Chinese government has subsidised land acquisition, raw material, labour and export.
  • Commitment by the government to procure over the long run.
  • Cost of capital
  • The cost of debt in India (11%) is highest in the Asia-Pacific region, while in China it is about 5%

Government initiatives

  • Ministry of new and renewable energy is the nodal agency to tackle India’s renewable energy issues.
  • National Solar Mission is a major initiative of the Government of India and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenge.
  • The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is a Non-Banking Financial Institution under the administrative control of this Ministry for providing term loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
  • National institute of solar energy is created as autonomous institution under MoNRE is apex body for R&D.
  • Establishment of solar parks and ultra major solar power project and enhancing grid connectivity infrastructure.
  • Promotion of canal bank and canal tank solar infrastructure.
  • Sustainable rooftop implementation of Solar transfiguration of India (SRISTI) scheme to promote rooftop solar power projects in india.
  • Suryamitra programme to prepare qualified workforce.
  • Renewable purchase obligation for large energy consumer customers.
  • National green energy programme and green energy corridor.

International initiatives

  • India’s commitment as part of INDC at Paris climate deal to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level.
  • To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund.
  • The establishment of International Solar Alliance (ISA) of more than 122 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn to promote solar energy.
  • To mobilize more than US $ 1000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy, and pave the way for future technologies adapted to the needs.

That being along these lines, India’s all out environmentally friendly power introduced limit remained at more than 89.5 GW, aside from hydropower surpassing 25 MW, by 31st October 2020. Among every huge economy, India showed the quickest development in adding sustainable power limit developing by 2.5 times, particularly sun based energy that denoted the development of more than 13 times in the previous 6 years.

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