Study says solar radiation available for producing power falling in India

Study says solar radiation available for producing power falling in India


Solar radiation available for conversion to electricity by solar panels is decreasing in several Indian locations, according to an analysis by IMD scientists.


GS-02 (Government Policies and interventions)

Facts for Prelims:

  • Solar PhotoVoltaic (SPV): SPV cells convert solar radiation (sunlight) into electricity. A solar cell is a semi-conducting device made of silicon and/or other materials, which, when exposed to sunlight, generates electricity.
  • Solar Thermal: Solar Thermal Power systems, also known as Concentrating Solar Power systems, use concentrated solar radiation as a high temperature energy source to produce electricity.

Key highlights:

  • Increased aerosol load and clouding are cited as causes, affecting the efficiency of solar panels.
  • The study examined radiation trends at 45 stations, with 13 showing a continuous decline in solar photovoltaic (SPV) potential from 1985 to 2019.
  • SPV potential decline was observed in cities like Ahmedabad, Chennai, Mumbai, and New Delhi, impacting India’s solar power capacity.
  • India aims to source 500 GW of electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, with a significant portion from solar power, but the annual addition of solar capacity has been below targets.

India’s solar energy potential:

  • India possesses abundant solar energy potential, with approximately 5,000 trillion kWh of energy incident over its land area each year, and most regions receiving 4-7 kWh per square meter per day.
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) power offers significant scalability opportunities in India.
  • The National Institute of Solar Energy has estimated the country’s solar potential at about 748 GW, assuming that 3% of the wasteland area can be utilized for solar PV modules.
  • India has set ambitious targets for renewable energy capacity, aiming to achieve 175 GW by 2022 and 500 GW by 2030. This marks the world’s largest expansion plan in renewable energy.
  • In 2021, India ranked as the second-largest market in Asia and third globally for new solar PV capacity additions, with 13 GW installed. In total installations, India ranked fourth globally, surpassing Germany for the first time with 60.4 GW.
  • India has made significant strides in solar power deployment, achieving the fifth global position by surpassing Italy. Solar capacity has increased more than elevenfold in the last five years, from 2.6 GW in March 2014 to 30 GW in July 2019. Presently, solar tariffs in India are highly competitive and have achieved grid parity.
  • Furthermore, high-efficiency solar PV modules have been included in the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme to enhance India’s manufacturing capabilities and boost exports.

Major initiatives implemented by the Indian government to promote solar energy:

  • Approval of 45 solar parks with a total capacity of 37 GW.
  • Operation of top solar parks like Pavagada (2 GW), Kurnool (1 GW), and Bhadla-II (648 MW).
  • Installation of the world’s largest renewable energy park, a 30 GW solar-wind hybrid project in Gujarat.
  • Launch of various schemes such as Solar Park Schemes, VGF Schemes, CPSU Schemes, Defence Schemes, Canal bank and canal top Schemes, Bundling Schemes, and Grid Connected Solar Rooftop Schemes.
  • Implementation of policies including a trajectory declaration for Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) and waiver of Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS) charges and losses for inter-state sale of solar and wind power.
  • Establishment of clear standards for solar PV systems and devices deployment.
  • Amendment of building bye-laws to mandate rooftop solar panel installation for new constructions or higher Floor Area Ratio.
  • Accordance of infrastructure status to solar projects.