India: A Hot Destination for the Solar Market

India: A Hot Destination for the Solar Market

By Rajesh Singh, senior general manager, RenwSys India                                                                                                                                                                

Reviewing the latest numbers and facts relating to Indian energy sector, we see that today India is the third largest consumer of electricity in the world with a yearly consumption of around 1,100 TWh. The electricity consumption is bound to increase on an exponential scale, looking to the plans for the rapid growth and developments through industrialization under new national agendas in coming years. The consumption is expected to grow by a CAGR of over 4 percent.  As per the recent data, the per capita consumption of electricity in India has crossed 1000 kWh, keeping India still among the countries having lowest per capita consumptions.  In China, per capita consumption of electricity is 4,000 kWh and in U.S. it is around 15,000 kWh. At the prevailing rate of growth, Indian population is set to surpass China by mid 2020s.  Indian is still an electricity deficit country with an average deficit of 6.4 percent for last six years; thought the deficit was narrowed down to below 3 percent during last year 2014-2015.

As per the report of Power Ministry, as on July 2015, India has 275.9 GW total installed capacity including all the sources. This capacity includes 28 percent share of Renewable energy. As on June 2015, the total installed capacity of solar power in the country was 4GW, which makes just 1.5 percent of total installations. If we consider the actual supply side of solar energy, it is merely 1 percent of total. If installation of 100 GW solar power target is completed by 2022, the share of solar power will raise to 10 percent of the total. It is difficult to arrive on the exact number, the industry experts estimate the solar power potential in India to be between 800–1000 GW. Naturally there exists a massive opportunity to tap this potential.

Going by the estimated demand growth, India needs to install between 4-5 times more capacities during next 20 years to fulfil the requirements. Obviously, the thermal power plants could not be the leading option from the viewpoints of unclear supply base for coal, gas and oils and the environmental sustainability. India had been using the coal as the main source of energy generation for years, it is not expected that the thermal power share shall fall below 50 percent in one-and-a-half to two decades to come. Indian needs to have a mix of at least 50 percent power from renewable sources mostly from Solar. Solar PV has been the fastest growing segment in renewable energy with average growth of 40 percent for last 5 years in India. Considering a share of total renewable energy to be 50  percent of total capacity installed; and within the renewable energy, a share of 60 percent from PV solar, the estimated total installed capacity of only Solar PV shall be over 500 GW by 2035. The Government at the centre has taken many serious steps towards providing conducive environment to convene this long journey… the agenda of ‘Make-in-India’ ─100 GW solar power installation by 2022 are few stepping stones.

The Indian solar market has unique advantages. It is one of the markets with highest potential growth, a territory with good solar irradiation, cheap manufacturing cost, sufficient barren land for installation, and a politically stable and supportive government. This brings enormous opportunities to the domestic and International industry players. Many big overseas companies have already announced investments in India either by setting-up green filed projects or through M&A.

However, India needs to work harder to establish a robust network with a full proof mechanism to enable developers, government authorities and financial institutions to work in synergy all the time. India also needs to acquire leadership role in Technology, Knowledge and Skill developments to support industry by providing knowledge and skilled man power for meeting huge target. There is an urgent need to up-bring institutes in the country to the level in Europe and USA. The country has capable Institutes and Technocrats to carrying out R&D and publications activities provided they are funded and supported by industry and the government.

India also needs to develop information system with better transparency and easy accessibility  for stake holders to know about policies, investment and technology options, fund availability, actual generation by existing plants, announcements on new projects and M&A, etc. This information will come handy to the investors making them ready and act faster to make decisions.

Predominantly, India is currently using c-Si solar technology modules with the range of cell efficiency from 17.2–17.6 percent for most of the installations on the mega levels. The trend of using higher efficiency cell modules is picking up momentum for roof top installations. Unlike current global trend, India market is not envisaging entry of PERC or PERT cell modules sooner, at least not in the coming one year or so in significant quantities. However, few new investments are coming up with PERC technology with a target of commercialization after a year.

September 23, 2015