Worldwide, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity and India’s recent status of lowest-cost producer of solar power further reflects an ongoing shift towards renewable power as the driver of global energy transformation. 

Costs for setting up solar PV projects have dropped by about 80 percent in India between 2010 and 2018. 

With India being a growing economy, power consumption is only going to rise, so the adoption of alternate forms of energy is the ideal way forward to manage the balance between economic growth and a sustainable environment. 

Having recognized this as early as 2010, the Government of the country has taken steps to ensure consistent growth in the segment. This in turn has helped the solar industry reach economies of scale in a short span of time, making India the cheapest producer of solar power. 

In 2010, the total installed solar capacity was 10 MW and in 2016, the installed capacity stood at 6000 MW – a steep climb of 600 times in just 6 years. As of March 2019, the total installed solar capacity stands at 30 GW, accounting for an increase of 5 times in 3 years 

(36.9 GW as per Nov 2020)

Today, solar has reached 30% of the 2022 target of 100 GWcontributing 38% to the renewable energy mix. The numbers are a testament to the focused approach of the Government and the positive response from solar developers leading to exponential growth. 

India being the cheapest producer of solar energy is not a coincidence but a success story of the effective public-private partnership (PPP) model. The growth of the sector can be accredited to the following: 

  1. Role of Government:

The specialized bodies formed by the Government of India like the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and subsequently the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) have played a pivotal role in helping India become one of the fastest adopters of solar energy. 

The journey of the country to become the 5th  largest solar installer in the world has been made possible by setting aggressive targets and implementation of policies through streamlined efforts. When the National Solar Mission was launched in 2010, the cost of solar power was INR 17 per unit in comparison to the latest bid of INR 2.44 per unit. This has been made possible by competitive tariff-based bidding that SECI, State, and Central Government have undertaken through tenders. The MNRE has also made efforts in promoting solar energy through various public awareness campaigns and events. 

Even state governments have contributed to the accelerated growth of the solar industry. Since electricity is a state subject and stable state government policies are critical to accelerate adoption. For example, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu promoted open access through concessional wheeling & banking facilities for solar. This made the two states the highest solar power generators in the country. Recently, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are following similar policy frameworks to accelerate adoption in the commercial and industrial segment

2)Land Certainty 

Historically land acquisition has always been a problem in India and is a major reason for cost escalation in infrastructure projects. Since the cost of land constitutes about 7% of a large scale solar project, in 2016, the MNRE Solar Park Policy introduced guidelines that would lead state governments to identify suitable large tracts of land with appropriate insolation levels and prioritize the use of government waste/non-agricultural land in order to speed up acquisition process for setting up solar parks. One of the probable reasons for the record low tariff of INR 2.44 was that the risk and uncertainty associated with land acquisition was completely erased from the project cost of large-scale solar projects. 

(basically, the govt relaxed norms to make the acquisition of lands for solar projects easy.) 

3) Price sensitivity 

It is no secret that India is a highly price-sensitive market and for any industry to make a significant footprint, price is a key indicator. This price sensitivity has helped the Indian solar market in two ways – The first being availability of key components like solar panels, inverters, junction boxes, etc. at much competitive prices than other countries; sometimes even from the same international vendors. 

This helped India achieve lower solar tariffs as compared to other countries. The second way the price sensitivity has helped is that once solar tariffs dropped below grid electricity tariffs, there has been super quick adoption, which has furthered the economies of scale, driving prices of components even lower.

International Solar Alliance 

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of 121 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn

The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient consumption of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels

 This initiative was first proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech in November 2015 at Wembley Stadium (London HA9 0WS, United Kingdom), in which he referred to sunshine countries as Suryaputra(“Sons of the Sun”). The alliance is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization

Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members, with the exception of voting rights. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide. 

The ISA is headquartered in Gurugram India 

OBJECTIVE OF THE ISA 

The focus is on solar power utilization. The launching of such an alliance in Paris also sends a strong signal to the global communities about the sincerity of the developing nations towards their concern about climate change and to switch to a low-carbon growth path. 

India has pledged a target of installing 100GW by 2022 and reduction in emission intensity by 33–35% by 2030 to let solar energy reach the most unconnected villages and communities and also towards creating a clean planet. 

India’s pledge to the Paris summit offered to bring 40% of its electricity generation capacity (not actual production) from non-fossil sources (renewable, large hydro, and nuclear) by 2030. It is based on world co-operation. 

India, with the support of France, has invited nations to facilitate infrastructure for the implementation of solar projects. 

The alliance has committed one trillion dollars as investment, and it is committed to making the costs of solar power more affordable for remote and inaccessible communities. 

The alliance will endorse India in achieving its goal of generating 100 GW of solar energy and 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022. The countries shall support each other in research and development as well as other high-level activities.

It is also seen as an alliance by the developing countries to form a united front and to undertake research and development for making solar power equipment within developing countries. 

 India has also put forward the concept of “One Sun One World one Grid” and “World Solar Bank” to harness abundant solar power on a global scale 

SOME RANDOM INFORMATION ABOUT INDIA’S SOLAR PUSH 

Rooftop solar power accounts for 2.1 GW, of which 70% is industrial or commercial. In addition to its large-scale grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) initiative, India is developing off-grid solar power for local energy needs. Solar products have increasingly helped to meet rural needs; by the end of 2015 just under one million solar lanterns were sold in the country, reducing the need for kerosene] That year, 118,700 solar home lighting systems were installed and 46,655 solar street lighting installations were provided under a national program; just over 1.4 million solar cookers were distributed in India 

Delhi 

Delhi being the Capital and a city-state in India, has limitations in installing ground-mounted solar power plants. However, it is leading in rooftop solar PV installations by adopting a fully flexible net metering system. 

The installed solar power capacity is 106 MW as of 30 September 2018. Delhi government has announced that the Rajghat thermal power plant will be officially shut at the 45-acre plant site and turned into a 5 MW solar power PV plant. 

GUJARAT 

Gujarat is one of India’s most solar-developed states, with its total photovoltaic capacity reaching 1,637 MW by the end of January 2019. Gujarat has been a leader in solar-power generation in India due to its high solar-power potential, availability of vacant land, connectivity, transmission and distribution infrastructure, and utilities. According to a report by the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP) report, these attributes are complemented by political will and investment.[full citation needed] The 2009 Solar Power of Gujarat policy framework, financing mechanism, and incentives have contributed to a green investment climate in the state and targets for grid-connected solar power.[

To make Gandhinagar a solar-power city, the state government has begun a rooftop solar-power generation scheme. Under the scheme, Gujarat plans to generate 5 MW of solar power by putting solar panels on about 50 state-government buildings and 500 private buildings. 

Top five solar power plants in India 

  1. Bhadla Solar Park – 2,250MW(Rajasthan) 
  2. Shakti Sthala solar power project – 2,050MW(Karnataka) 
  3. Ultra Mega Solar Park – 1,000MW(AP) 
  4. Rewa Solar Power Project – 750MW(MP) 
  5. Kamuthi solar power plant – 648MW(Tamil Nadu) 

Top five states for solar power production in India 

1)Karnataka 7100 MW 

2) TELANGANA 5000 MW 

3) RAJASTHAN 4470 MW 

4) ANDHRA 3470 MW 

5) GUJARAT 2654 MW

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