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Solar business to get impacted by advanced technology and pricing

March 25, 2022 6:27 pm

Solar business to get impacted by advanced technology and pricing

Leading solar industry experts predict a technological development with the introduction of inverter technologies, as well as breakthroughs in mono- and multi-crystalline solar panels and solar cells.
India has set an ambitious target of achieving 500 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030. The current capacity stands at 157+ GW. India holds a huge scope for solar power as there are varied landscapes that support the installation of solar plants.
According to Deepak Ushadevi, CEO & MD, Ciel & Terre India, “The growing population demands energy as well as land space. Solar plants can be installed traditionally on the ground or roof-top, while installing them on the many waterbodies that are available transforms them into revenue and energy yielding sources, thus reducing the demand for land space that would be needed to set up a traditional solar plant.” 
The collaborative role of solar and wind power in renewable energy integration would definitely speed up the energy transition in India. Here, according to Manoj Gupta, VPSolar and Waste to Energy Business, Fortum India, “The combination gives an advantage of supply of renewables by 75-80 percent of the time in a day.” The country has set an ambitious target to achieve a capacity of 175 GW worth of renewable energy by the end of 2022, which will expand to 500 GW by 2030. This is the world’s largest expansion plan for renewable energy and solar and wind power would significantly contribute towards it. 
The effects of the PLI scheme 
The allocation of an additional 195 billion for the PLI programme is a welcome step to facilitate domestic manufacturing for the ambitious goal of 280 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030, a great step for AtmaNirbhar Bharat. “The extension of the concessional tax rate at 15 percent for new power generating units from March 2023 to March 2024 will benefit new developers. This can accelerate investment, and the new proposal for ease of doing business is a welcome freshness,”elucidates Deepak.”
Taken in its entirety with the existing Solar PLI scheme of ₹4500 crore that is already under execution, the scheme will place India irreversibly on the solar manufacturing path for the long term. Noting the same, Manoj believes that even though the PLI scheme is a great booster for the solar sector, the various challenges of resource allocation, capital investment, and information barriers persist.
“The quantum of PLI set aside will equal about 40 GW of production capacity from Poly Silicon to modules, which is what the Indian industry needs.” It appears that the scheme will most benefit the large players and conglomerates that are setting up all four segments of solar manufacturing. It is critical that the large and mid-sized players, as well as MSME’s, who have already invested in this sector benefit as well.If the benefit goes only to 7-8 players, we will fall short of setting up the 40 GW, says Avinash Hiranandani, Global CEO & MD, RenewSys.
Along with the announcement, the government also needs to balance budgetary allocation, says Bharat Bhut, Co-founder & Director, Goldi Solar. The budgetary amount should be allocated for companies in three segments: companies integrating modules from polysilicon, companies integrating modules from wafers, and companies developing modules from cells. 
He further suggests the central government should also sanction some amount for the upgradation of solar manufacturing facilities older than ten years, and some amount to MSMEs. According to him, it will help MSMEs expand their manufacturing capacity as their expansion is critical for the industry ecosystem to satisfy solar developers’ need for modules for increasing solar installations in the country.
Solar demand is being driven by products and solutions 
Going by Deepak’s analysis, the floating solar segment has exploded in the Indian market in recent years as more developers become aware of its benefits and potential. The government has also started floating tenders for FSPV plants. With this, we are looking towards at least 1 GW of floating solar.
Solar cell and module developers keep looking for ways to maximise PV panel efficiencies. “The decreasing cost of storage solutions, along with that of rooftop solar solutions, is likely to change the future of the Indian power sector and will help the country transition to sustainable solutions,” explains Manoj. The market is coming up with various technologies made up of multi and monocrystalline. There is technology evolution in inverter technologies as well, which is the driving force of the solar sector.
The new products whose production will be scaled up are the Mono PERC Cut Cell Modules, which have an optimum power of approximately 540 Wp. There are also cutting-edge products being developed in India in the encapsulant field, especially in terms of UV cut-off, reduction in module lamination cycle time, and thermo-proficient encapsulants, both EVA and POE-based.
Challenges in obtaining raw material 
Different manufacturers are coming forward to set up fully integrated facilities from polysilicon production through wafer, solar cell and module manufacturing. Noting the same, Bharat believe that the PLI scheme is expected to attract a direct investment of around US$2.33 billion. We will see the entire ecosystem coming up here in India, raw materials included. 
O&M practises that are both efficient and safe
 Here, Deepak explains their Hydrelio® technology; two diverse types of configurations are possible – 2 in a row and 4 in a row configuration. Both these configurations provide ease of access during the O&M. Also, the inner array is what requires maintenance. Further, the outer array, which is basically to provide buoyancy to the island, doesn’t demand any kind of maintenance, hence preventing slips and falls.
Whereas, Manoj thinks that IT-enabled solutions and robotic/waterless cleaning technology are making the operation and maintenance more efficient and safer.
Energy efficient products and solutions 
We can see lots of advancements in technology in the fields of wind and solar energy. High efficiency PV modules, inverters, and transformers with higher ratings, etc. The ultimate purpose will be the effective utilisation of land. There was a time almost a decade back when around 7-8 acres of land was required to install 1 MW of solar project, and you can do the same on 3–3.5 acres today, and it may go down to around 2 acres per MW in the next decade with the advancement in technologies. The same is applicable to wind turbines. The size of wind turbines has increased from 200–225 KW to around 3–4 MW now in the last 2 decades. In fact, the western world has already started installing single turbines in the 5–6 MW range.
Other things which are going to be added in the Green Energy sector are Green Hydrogen, Green Ammonia, Hydrogen Fuel Cells, etc.
Future trends in solar and wind 
The country’s inclination towards renewable energy is increasing gradually, and so are the developments in the sector. The solar segment is likely to have the largest market share during the forecast period, owing to the declining cost of solar modules and the versatility of these systems for various applications, like electricity generation, water heating, etc. India is endowed with vast solar energy potential.
There has been a visible impact of solar energy on the Indian energy sector during the last few years. The wind energy sector, on the other hand, has grown steadily over three decades. “India has a more mature wind energy market as compared to solar, but in the last five years, solar has outstripped wind in terms of total installed capacity. “India is now seeing wind repowering, offshore wind projects, and upgrading of old wind sites with newer, more powerful turbines,” concludes Manoj.
Floating solar panels are one of the trends. Floating solar can be installed on varied waterbodies such as irrigation dams, raw water ponds, water storage ponds, etc. In recent years, industries like thermal power plants and hot steel plants that own ponds inside are opting for floating solar as it has multiple benefits: it helps meet the industry’s power needs, saves water from evaporating, which can be used for their water processing instead of sourcing externally. Considering this, Deepak believes several innovative technologies are booming, like hydro-floating solar hybrid technology and green hydrogen-floating solar technology.
2022 is going to be the year of solar manufacturing as we will see more developers hop on to the manufacturing bandwagon. Bharat further notes that a new chapter will be written in the journey of making India a solar manufacturing hub and ensuring energy security in the long-term for the nation.
India targets installing 280 GW of solar by 2030. As of now, most of the major solar initiatives are based out of the southern part of India. However, stepping into 2022, current innovations and initiatives in the pipeline anticipate that the Northern part will outshine the Southern region in terms of maximum deployed solar PV capacity. “Given the ease of land acquisition and other legal permits from the federal and state governments, gigantic solar power plants are in full gear, with a tremendous amount of domestic and international investment flowing into the industry. The Indian government has also created a National Green Corridor Program to allow renewable power to stream into the national grid network. All of these will drive demand for solar panels and allied products in India”, Bharat concludes.
Extending tax breaks may boost investment, and the latest idea to make it easier to do business is a refreshing breath of fresh air.
Deepak Ushadevi, CEO & MD, Ciel & Terre India
The lowering cost of storage systems, along with rooftop solar solutions, is expected to alter the future of India’s power industry.
Manoj Gupta, VP-Solar and Waste to Energy Business, Fortum India 

The amount of PLI put aside will be around 40 GW of production capability, from Poly Silicon to modules, which is exactly what India’s industry requires.
Avinash Hiranandani, Global CEO & MD, RenewSys 

We will see the entire ecosystem coming up here in India, raw materials included.
Bharat Bhut, Co-founder & Director, Goldi Solar 

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