Solar energy to empower India

No more dependence on coal, no more red tapism, no more home without electricity, India is moving faster on its way to generate major portion of its energy from the solar power
 India is gaining superpower, but the gap between its energy supply and demand reveals significant challenges for future growth. The nation still depends on thermal power. Almost 60 per cent of India’s 245 GW of capacity is based on coal, and the polices by the government are making the challenges harder.
Finally, India made his decision to fall back on solar energy to overcome these challenges.
India’s solar energy potential and current status“Solar energy can be the key to solving continuing increase in commercial and residential energy needs,” opines Vineet Mittal, Vice Chairman, Welspun Renewables Energy Pvt. Ltd. “India has experienced tremendous development in this sector, where the solar capacity has risen from single digits to 2.6 GW by FY13-14. Increasing adoption is fast making solar an affordable alternative to lighting up of homes within short time. The current government also sees renewable as an integral solution to India’s energy demand. Its recent announcement of 1,500 MW solar projects up for bids is a brilliant example.
Almost 82 per cent of India’s total electricity generated comes from thermal power sources. However, India has taken measures to shift its power generation base to renewable energy sources and the nation has already reached an installed  renewable energy capacity of over 12 per cent of the total installed  power capacity.Hitesh Doshi, Chairman and Managing Director, Waaree Group, says, “India has the fifth largest power generation portfolio worldwide. India receives one of the highest levels of solar irradiations in the world. The share of renewable energy has gone up from 7.8 per cent in 2008 to 12.3 per cent in 2013. Solar energy is still a miniscule percentage of the entire portfolio. Considering 300 sunny days India’s theoretical solar reception only on its land area is about 600000 GW. In January 2014 the installed grid connected solar power was at 2,208.36 MW, while India expects to install an additional 10,000 MW by 2017 and reach a total of 20,000 MW by 2022.”
ChallengesThere are a couple of challenges which have to be resolved to make this a mainstream source of energy. According to Mr Doshi, “The share of renewable energy in the generation mix has been rising over the years in India. Land is a scarce resource and dedicated use of land for utility scale power plants will create scarcity of land for other purposes.”
Government’s approachIndia’s solar mission aims to add 20,000 MW of grid-connected solar capacity by 2022. Power Minister Piyush Goyal recently said that India can surpass its target of generating 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The government is pulling out all stops to achieve that.
Even Mr Doshi shares his confidence on the government’s initiatives. He states, “The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy provides 70 per cent subsidy on the installation cost of a solar photovoltaic power plant in North-East states and 30 percentage subsidy on other regions. Additionally, the government has initiated a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) scheme, which is designed to drive investment in low-carbon energy projects.”
According to Mr Mittal, “For our and the industry’s further growth, conducive government policies are the key in this equation. By creating favourable conditions, the sector will continue to grow exponentially. For ensuring this, the government needs to take concrete action against challenges which are impeding IPPs to set up projects.”
Mr Mittal then shares some of the initiatives that the government should impalement like imposing of import duties on solar generation equipment, ensuring payment security, priority lending status, RPOs and energy evacuation.
Future outlookThe country’s current installed solar capacity exceeds 2,600 MW. The power ministry, facing rising power demand and low installed capacity and acute coal shortage, has been relying on solar power.
“Many of the state nodal agencies have invited tenders to set up huge power plants across the country,” says Mr Doshi. “Railway is considering using rooftop to generate electricity, which is a huge consumer of energy. We believe that rooftop will be a huge opportunity in a country like India. There are some limitations which can only be served by off-grid rooftop systems for captive consumption.”
Indian solar power playersWelspun Renewables Energy Pvt. Ltd. (WREPL), the first Indian renewable energy player to be ISO 9001:2008 certified, has so far commissioned 328 MW solar and wind capacities. More than 703.5-MW capacity is under construction too. The total generation from its renewable projects till July 2014 was 68,7106 MWh.
Its 55-MW (DC) Phalodi solar capacity is one of India’s largest and highest generating plants in the country. The recently commissioned 19 MW (DC) Chitradurga plant is Karnataka’s largest solar project.
Then there is Waaree Group, which has completed 180 MW of solar utility scale projects. It has been the implementation partner for government schemes like RHDS-1 to enable farmers with solar water pumps. It has now a capacity of 250 MW module manufacturing plant to ensure better reliability to projects. We have also started with a training program for local installers to help them with small rooftop installations. According to Mr Doshi, “In a country like India, rooftop installations are the way to penetrate the market and develop it.”
Many of the state nodal agencies have invited tenders to set up huge power plants across the country
Hitesh Doshi, CMD,Waaree Group
By creating favourable conditions, the sector will continue to grow exponentially
Vineet Mittal, Vice Chairman, Welspun Renewables Energy

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