India is a tropical country, where sunshine is available for longer hours per day and in great intensity. Solar energy, therefore, has great potential as a future source of energy. It also has the advantage of permitting the decentralised distribution of energy, thereby empowering people at the grassroots level.
India is endowed with abundant solar energy, which is capable of producing 5,000 trillion Kilowatts of clean energy. The country is blessed with around 300 sunny days in a year and solar isolation of 4 to 7 kWh per day. If this energy is harnessed efficiently, it can easily reduce our energy deficit scenario –and that too with no carbon emission.
Many states in India have already recognised and indentified solar energy potential. Others are lined up to meet their growing energy needs with clean and everlasting solar energy. In near future solar energy will have a huge role to play in meeting India’s energy demand. Based on this vision Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was launched under the brand name ‘Solar India.’
Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission is a major initiative of the Government of India with active participation from states to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenge. It plays a major role in India’s contribution to fight against the issues of climate change, which is a big concern across the globe.
Launching India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change on June 30, 2008, the then Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh stated, “Our Vision it to make India’s economic development energy-efficient. Over a period of time, we must pioneer a graduated shift from economic activity based on fossil fuels to one based on non-fossil fuels and from reliance on non-renewable and depleting sources of energy to renewable sources of energy. In this strategy, the sun occupies centre-stage, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy. We will pool our scientific, technical and managerial talents, with sufficient financial resources, to develop solar energy as a source of abundant energy to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people. Our success in this endeavour will change the face of India. It would also enable India to help change the destinies of people around the world.”
In the last three years the cost of generation from solar has drastically come down – and MNRE anticipates solar power achieving grid parity by 2017-18 – and parity with coal-based thermal power by 2020, but this recognises that cost trajectory will depend upon the scale of global deployment and technology development and transfer. There are a number of off-grid solar applications particularly for meeting rural energy needs, which are already cost-effective and provides for their rapid expansion.
- Scalability: India is endowed with vast solar energy potential. About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energy is incident over India’s land area with most parts receiving 4 to 7 kWh per sq. m. per day. Hence, both technology routes for conversion of solar radiation into heat and electricity, namely, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic, can effectively be harnessed providing huge scalability for solar in India.
- Environmental impact: Solar energy is environmentally friendly as it has zero emissions while generating electricity or heat
- Security of source: From energy security perspective, solar is the most secure of all sources, since it is abundantly available. Theoretically, a small fraction of the total incident solar energy (if captured effectively) can meet the entire country’s power requirements. It is also clear that given the large proportion of poor and energy un-served population in the country, every effort needs to be made to exploit the relatively abundant sources of energy available to the country.
Solar-based electric power generation:
- Off-Grid Solar Power for Rural India
- On-Grid Solar Power for Urban India
Off-grid solar power generation: 75% of Indians stay in rural areas, is an old saying. Off-grid solar-power generation in rural India shall definitely strengthen our economic health of grass root-level people. The poorest of poor, can have light in his/her hut in less than ` 1000. Only 100 Watts of Roof-top Solar in rural/ village house is enough to provide round the clock power for all the needs including LED-bulbs, small DC TV, Mobile charger & cooking at a very economical tag of ` 24,000/- only (one time expenditure) Solar-panel life is typically 25 years. In addition to this Solar-Powered agricultural pumps can be provided up to 10Hp through soft bank-loans by respective state government. The economically healthy rural India shall fulfill superpower dream of India.
A vision 2020 / future solar rural India
By 2020 conventional electrical lines shall be out of site. All rural houses shall be powered by off-grid solar panels for their total domestic lighting needs including lighting, TV, fridge, water-pumps etc. Latest battery technology like LiFePO4 or Capacitor batteries shall play the major role, wherein abundant solar-energy shall be stored for efficient, interruptable energy supply. Most of the daily cooking needs shall be taken care of by latest battery-powered cooking, eliminating cooking-gas & conventional fuel.
All petrol/ diesel pumps shall be converted to solar-charging stations, fuelling latest battery – operated efficient transport vehicles, like scooters, motorcycles, cars etc. Renewable-energy shall be the base of future rural – village. Conventionally manufactured electricity shall be fed only to urban areas and industries, reducing transmission-loss and leakages. This shall make India a better place to live in.
On-grid / Grid-tied solar power generation for urban India: Cost of solar-panels is the lowest today and on the contrary electrical tariff has shot up due to reasons well known to all of us. This has helped in achieving solar-power generation projects to reach breakeven point at 5 to 6 years. Very soon Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) shall be mandatory to all business houses, wherein 2% of their energy requirement has to be produced by renewable energy. Hence, major industrial houses have to start generating minimum 2% of their needs by renewable energy. On top of it, groups having surplus funds can avail depreciation benefit of 80% on Green-Technology Investment, recovering their cost in 2 years – and having their own power-generation units of 25 years life.
A typical 1 MW good-quality power – generation plant needs approx. 5 to 6 acres of land for solar-panels and shall cost approx. ` 6 to 7 Corers. The breakeven point is guaranteed for 5 to 6 years. Approx. 18 lacks units are produced per year by 1MW solar-plant. Rest calculation shall reduce power-needs still further.
Thus, we can be one of the future great-powers in the world – if we properly harness the solar energy incident on our land.