Solar energy: Need of the hour
The central government of India is walking along a right track to achieve its goal of 100GW by 2022.This becomes evident from the recently concluded “International Solar Alliance”.The future looks bright for this energy to flourish in India. Recently government has decided to auction 30GW solar energy capacities each in 2018-19 and 2018-20 to achieve the target of 100GW.
Large, credible international companies such as SoftBank Group of Japan, Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology, and India’s Tata Power have shown their interest to make India rely more on solar energy. Renewable power offers a relatively low-cost solution to energy security challenges conserves scarce foreign exchange and reduces fossil-fuel-based pollution. These benefits led India and France to propose an alliance known as International Solar Alliance (ISA) for “sunshine” countries in the tropicsin November 2016. These countries receive strong solar radiation which makes solar energy feasible, thereby providing favorable conditions for low-cost solar power generation.
For rural areas, solar energy has worked wonders. By the end of 2015, almost 1 million solar lanterns were sold in the rural areas reducing their dependability on kerosene. Apart from the large scale grid-connected solar PV initiative, India is also developing off-grid solar powers for rural and semi urban areas. India observes on an average 300 sunny days every year which makes it a possibility to achieve 5000 trillion kWh every year. This is more than enough for a population of 1.3 billion. But there are many challenges which impede the government from achieving its potential energy needs.
Solar PV has become obsolete and demands for evolution .This is not in line to become cost competitive which deter solar energy from being able to compete on the same scale as other energy generation technologies. Adding to the cost are Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses that at approximately 40 percent make generation through solar energy sources highly unfeasible. However, the government is supporting R&D activities by establishing research centers and funding such initiatives. The government has tied up with world-renowned universities to bring down the installation cost of solar power sources and is focusing on upgradation of substations and T&D lines to reduce T&D losses.
There is another challenge of “Per capita land” availability that is very low in India, and land is a scarce resource. Dedication of land area near substations for exclusive installation of solar cells might have to compete with other necessities that require land.
Funding of initiatives like National Solar Mission is a constraint given India’s inadequate financing capabilities. The finance ministry has explicitly raised concerns about funding an ambitious scheme like NSM.
The conclusion is that if we could beat the challenges aforementioned then our future energy needs can be secured for many more years and we will be able to provide a clean and green energy for our upcoming generations.