Analysing India’s Solar Capacity

Context:

• India added a record 10 Gigawatt (GW) of solar energy to its cumulative installed capacity in 2021.
• This has been the highest 12-month capacity addition, recording nearly a 200% year-on-year growth.
• India has now surpassed 50 GW of cumulative installed solar capacity, as on 28 February 2022.

Analysis:

• This can be considered as a milestone in India’s journey towards generating 500 GW from renewable energy by 2030, of which 300 GW is expected to come from solar power.
• India’s capacity additions rank the country fifth in solar power deployment, contributing nearly 6.5% to the global cumulative capacity of 709.68 GW.
• However, there are some areas of concern to highlight.
• First, of the 50 GW installed solar capacity, an overwhelming 42 GW comes from ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and only 6.48 GW comes from roof top solar (RTS); and 1.48 GW from off-grid solar PV.

 

Reasons Behind Lagging in Roof Top Solar:

• The share of roof top solar stands at mere 6.5 GW which is way behind from Union Government’s target of 40 GW by 2022.
• As of now there is no such initiative from the government in encouraging the residents in setting up roof top solar.
• Even the small and medium industries must be provided with incentives to encourage setting up of roof top solar.
• Even the discoms are not upto the mark in response towards net metering efforts.
• There is also huge potential hidden in the infrastructure owned by the Governments.
• They can be utilized to the maximum in implementing the roof top solar.
• Improving more capacity under RTS is also cost effective, it will be a cost saving exercise.

Challenges:

• Even though the total solar capacity is increasing, its share in the total contribution to the power sector has remained stagnant at 3.6%.
• The utility-scale solar PV sector continues to face challenges like land costs, high T&D losses and other inefficiencies, and grid integration challenges.
• There have also been conflicts with local communities and biodiversity protection norms.
• Also, while India has achieved record low tariffs for solar power generation in the utility-scale segment, this has not translated into cheaper power for end-consumers.

Domestic Challenges:

• Currently, the manufacturing capacity is not sufficient enough to match the demand in the country.
• India has no capacity for manufacturing solar wafers and polysilicon.
• In 2021-22, India imported nearly $76.62 billion worth solar cells and modules from China alone, accounting for 78.6% of India’s total imports that year.
• Low manufacturing capacities, coupled with cheaper imports from China have rendered Indian products uncompetitive in the domestic market.

Source: THE HINDU

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