The Sun has been worshiped as a life-giver to our planet since ancient times. The industrial ages gave us the understanding of sunlight as an energy source. India is endowed with vast solar energy potential. About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energy is incident over India’s land area with most parts receiving 4-7 kWh per sqm per day. Solar photovoltaic power can effectively be harnessed providing huge scalability in India. Solar also provides the ability to generate power on a distributed basis and enables rapid capacity addition with short lead times. Off-grid decentralized and low-temperature applications will be advantageous from a rural application perspective and meeting other energy needs for power, heating and cooling in both rural and urban areas. From an energy security perspective, solar is the most secure of all sources, since it is abundantly available. Theoretically, a small fraction of the total incident solar energy (if
captured effectively) can meet the entire country’s power requirements.
There has been a visible impact of solar energy in the Indian energy scenario during the last few years. Solar energy based decentralized and distributed applications have benefited millions of people in Indian villages by meeting their cooking, lighting and other energy needs in an environment friendly manner. The social and economic benefits include reduction in drudgery among rural women and girls engaged in the collection of fuel wood from long distances and cooking in smoky kitchens, minimization of the risks of contracting lung and eye ailments, employment generation at village level, and ultimately, the improvement in the standard of living and creation of opportunity for economic activities at village level. Further, solar energy sector in India has emerged as a significant player in the grid connected power generation capacity over the years. It supports the government agenda of sustainable growth, while, emerging as an integral part of the solution to meet the nation’s energy needs and an essential player for energy security.
National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) has assessed the country’s solar potential of about 748 GW assuming 3% of the waste land area to be covered by Solar PV modules. Solar energy has taken a central place in India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change with National Solar Mission (NSM) as one of the key Missions. NSM was launched on 11 th January, 2010. NSM is a major initiative of the Government of India with active participation from States to promote ecological sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenges. It will also constitute a major contribution by India to the global effort to meet the challenges of climate change. The Mission’s objective is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy by creating the policy conditions for solar technology diffusion across the country as quickly as possible. This is line with India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) target to achieve about 50 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources and to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 45 percent from 2005 level by 2030.
In order to achieve the above target, Government of India have launched various schemes to encourage generation of solar power in the country like Solar Park Scheme, VGF Schemes, CPSU Scheme, Defence Scheme, Canal bank & Canal top Scheme, Bundling Scheme, Grid Connected Solar Rooftop Scheme etc.
Government has taken several steps for promotion of solar energy in the country. These include:
- Permitting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 100 percent under the automatic route,
- Waiver of Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) charges for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by 30th June 2025,
- Declaration of trajectory for Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) up to the year 2029-30,
- Notification of standards for deployment of solar photovoltaic system/devices,
- Setting up of Project Development Cell for attracting and facilitating investments,
- Standard Bidding Guidelines for tariff based competitive bidding process for procurement of Power from Grid Connected Solar PV and Wind Projects.
- Government has issued orders that power shall be dispatched against Letter of Credit (LC) or advance payment to ensure timely payment by distribution licensees to RE generators.
- Notification of Promoting Renewable Energy through Green Energy Open Access Rules 2022.
- Notification of “The electricity (Late Payment Surcharge and related matters) Rules 2002 (LPS rules).
- Launch of Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) to facilitate sale of Renewable Energy power including Solar power through exchanges.
Now, India stands 5th in solar PV deployment across the globe at the end of 2022 (Ref. REN21’s Global Status Report 2023 & IRENA’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2023). Solar power installed capacity has reached around 70.10 GW as on 30-06-2023.