Solar Energy Boom in India

Solar Energy Boom in India

By Dr. Arul Shanmugasundram, Tata Power Solar

India is in a state of perpetual energy shortage with a demand-supply gap of almost 12 percent of the total energy demand. This trend is noteworthy in the electricity segment that is greatly dependent on coal, where alternate energy sources contribute only a percentage of the total installed power capacity in India. We believe that solar will play a crucial role in bridging India’s huge energy deficit.

With the Government considering solar as a key solution to our energy needs and revising India’s solar energy target from 20 GW to 100 GW by 2022, solar is now more prominent as a viable mainstream energy option than ever before.

Solar’s biggest advantage is its scalability and adaptability; usage can vary from distributed generation like rooftops, micro grids and off-grid products to setting up of other large solar parks and utility scale projects across the country. While the government has always looked at large scale projects, the focus has also been routed to rooftop solar; there is a lot of idle roof space available across the country and as solar becomes cheaper, rooftops will take over and help create an organic, consumer-driven (as opposed to a policy-driven) market.

Another aspect I would like to bring out is Photovoltaic (PV) technology. The current cost structure in the solar market is getting closer to grid parity. But innovation in technology is required to make solar truly energy-competitive and sustainable. The Tata Group believes in next-gen PV technology being the game changer needed for solar, and hence has made investments in Flisom ─ a Swiss start-up solar company to develop technologies for manufacturing of thin film CIGS modules.

The solar industry has never been synonymous with employment generation; interestingly an international report on India’s energy market suggests that between 2011 and 2014, 24,000 full-time jobs were generated through PV projects alone. The direct as well as indirect job-creation opportunity is immense, especially on the distributed generation and rooftop platform. Some reports propose that with the planned 100GW solar target, India can create up to 1,000,000 full time jobs. 

The Indian solar market is growing at an incredible pace: as per a recent Bridge to India report, solar has grown by over 300 percent this year. The growth in India’s power demand is at cross roads; and the next phase will be an interesting amalgamation of opportunities and challenges to solve India’s energy deficit gap.

The central government, as its commitment, has come out with nearly 850 MW of projects under the Domestic Content Requirement and 4000 MWp under the open category.  Also multiple state tenders in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have been recently awarded including 2000 MWp in Telengana and 1200 MWp in TamilNadu.  Despite the intense competition in the reverse bidding process the appetite of investors in the Indian market seems voracious and there is intense participation in all the bids which are significantly oversubscribed, pointing to a good robust market growth in the utility scale in the near term.

September 23, 2015