The world is rapidly switching to renewable energy. Climate change is causing huge shifts in the industry, countries are trying to decarbonize the energy sector by 2050. With about 300 sunny days a year in India, the solar incidence can reach up to 5 EWh/yr. (Muneer T et,al (2005)). It is also estimated that the solar energy available in a single year exceeds the possible energy output of all of the fossil fuel energy reserves in India. With the recent union budget announced for the year 2022 – 2023, India has massive plans to boost its green energy production through solar projects and many more and also reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Between 2014 to 2021, the installed PV capacity increased fifteen-fold. As of November 2021, the country’s solar capacity amounted to 48.55 GW. By the end of 2022, the government aims to increase it by three-fold. The government has set plans to reach 500 GW of electricity generated by renewable energy and reduce fossil fuel dependence by 50 percent by 2030. Out of 500 GW, more than 200 GW will be from solar energy. Solar power in India is a fast-developing industry compared to the other renewable sources of energy.
Figure 1 shows the total installed capacity till March 2022. India has so far only domestically manufactured a total of only 3 gigawatts (GW) for solar cells and 15GW for solar modules and depends on imports from China. In 2021, India imported $ 571.65 million worth of solar cells and modules out of that China alone accounted for $494.87 million followed by Thailand which accounted for $18.76 million worth of solar panels/cells. The government is pushing out new initiatives to drive down the dependence on imports and focus on manufacturing everything from scratch (manufacturing solar wafers to producing solar modules) Under the production Linked Insurance (PLI) scheme, the government is planning to bring an additional investment worth more than 300 million USD crore into solar Photovoltaic cells and modules manufacturing in India. will facilitate the manufacturing capacity of 40 GW solar modules. The main aim of this scheme is to cut dependence on imports. This means more solar manufacturing capacity for more renewable power generation. The manufacturing companies receive incentives over five years post commissioning of solar module plants. Under this scheme, solar manufacturers are selected through a transparent bidding process. The bids are invited by the state-run Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd (IREDA). A total of 19 companies have placed bids in the initial phase some of which include Reliance, Adani, Tata, Coal India, Larsen & Toubro, ReNew Power, Waaree Energies, Vikram Solar, etc.
India’s largest solar power plant is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The Rewa power plant has a total capacity of 750 MW The solar plant was set up jointly by the Centre’s Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). The plant consists of three solar power generating units that are located on a 500-hectare plot of land inside a 1,500-hectare solar park. This huge solar power plant is expected to reduce the country’s carbon emissions annually by a huge margin. When it comes to the total rooftop capacity in India, the commercial and industrial sector accounted for nearly 70% in a total of 4.8 GW and residential rooftops accounted for 1.1 GW. By the end of 2020, the total cumulative capacity was 6.8 GW.
The ‘One Sun, One World One Grid’ Initiati
At the International Solar Alliance in 2018, the Prime Minister of India put forth the plan of the One Sun, One World One Grid initiative. This Initiative was launched jointly with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson, at COP26. This initiative will not only reduce the global carbon footprint but will also help increase the viability of solar projects across different countries and also bolster the prospects of cooperation between different countries. During COP26 which was held last year, India and the UK released a statement that stated “Realising the vision of One Sun One World One Grid through interconnected green grids can be transformational, enabling all of us to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement to prevent dangerous climate change”. This was endorsed by 80 ISA member countries. The main areas of investment and the goal of this initiative will be in.
- Solar and other forms of renewable energy and storage for supporting a global grid
- Building long-distance cross-border transmission lines to connect renewable energy generators
- Developing cutting edge technologies to modernize the power systems
This initiative offers an opportunity to use the sun's energy 24 hours a day to its full potential. The International Solar Alliance is studying the viability of this concept. If this initiative becomes a success, then a reliable and affordable supply of clean energy will be available for the whole world.