The Sun rises in the Northeast

This article attempts to review the renewable energy programme in the region of solar technology and suggests measures for development of the sector in Northeast India. - Dr. Sarat Kumar Sahoo, Priti Pallabi Das

Renewable Energy, Green Power Electricity, Energy Conservation, Sustainable Energy, Environments, Solar power | The Sun rises in the Northeast - Electrical India Magazine on Power & Electrical products, Renewable Energy, Transformers, Switchgear & Cables
The Sun rises in the Northeast

The Indian renewable energy sector is the fourth most attractive renewable energy market in the world. The country ranks fourth in the world in terms of total installed wind power capacity. Installed renewable power generation capacity has increased steadily over the years, posting a CAGR of 9.29 per cent over FY 08–18. India added record 11,788 MW of renewable energy capacity in 2017-18 and 1,832.26 MW (grid interactive and off-grid) in April-July 2018. The focus of Government of India has shifted to clean energy after it ratified the Paris Agreement. With the increased support of government and improved economics, the sector has become attractive from investors perspective. As India looks to meet its energy demand on its own, which is expected to reach 15,820 TWH by 2040, renewable energy is set to play an important role.

Renewable energy in India comes under the purview of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). India was the first country in the world to set up a ministry of non-conventional energy resources, in the early 1980s. Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is responsible for the development of solar energy industry in India.

Life on Earth is heliocentric as most of the energy is derived from the Sun. Imminent climate changes and demand of clean energy has raised up significantly. The proper dissemination of technologies for large scale power generation is determined by the true potential of identified solar hotspots. The power generation with the emission reduction potential aiming to achieve the long term target of NSM (national solar mission) considering the techno-economic and organisational aspect in the dissemination of solar power technologies like SPV (solar photovoltaic) cells and CSP (concentrated solar power).

The electricity generated by SPV cells in proportional to area exposed and intensity of global insolation received. Component selection and system design plays a pivotal role in SPV power-based system. CSP technology preferentially utilises the direct component of global insolation which could be forwarded to the receiver using lenses or mirrors. The receiver being of smaller area decreases heat loss and hence increases the efficiency. With the help of high-resolution data from NASA SSE the solar hotspots based on exploitable potential in India across the federal boundaries of India and agro climate zones are identified.

Direct insolation with minimum threshold value of 1800Kwh/m2/year is the best recommended for CSP in order to achieve levelised electricity costs. CSP technologies perform better in semi-arid and arid regions. Direct insolation with respect to global insolation varies season wise.

Figure 1: Solar hotspot in India (Source: GRDSS-IISC)
Figure 2: North East India

Energy Scenario in Northeast India

The seven sisters and one little brother (Sikkim) region of India are less developed region of the country. The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region has improved the electrification status of Northeast India. The North Eastern states are achieving greener grid.

From Figure 3 and 4, it is observed that the surplus energy is anticipated of the order 3 per cent in the north eastern region whereas the peaking surplus is likely to prevail in the north eastern region tunes to 2.7%.

The actual energy requirement, energy availability, peak demand and peak demand met in North Eastern Region during 2016-17 was lower than anticipated Central Electricity Authority LGBR: 2017-18 9 by 6.5%, 0.9%, 11.2% and 8.2% respectively. The actual energy shortage in the Region was 2.8% as compared to forecast shortage of 8.3%. The actual energy shortages in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland were 2.1%, 3.6%, 3.4% and 1.9% against the anticipated shortages of 8.9%, 22.4%, 3.6% and 15.0% respectively.

Figure 3: Anticipated all India power supply position in terms of energy (Source:
Figure 4: Anticipated all India power supply position in terms of peak (Source:

The main reason for lower energy shortages than the anticipated were lower actual energy requirement and higher actual energy availability than the anticipated figures. The actual energy shortages in the case of Mizoram and Tripura were 2.6% and 1.3% against anticipated surplus of 10.6% and 73.9% respectively due to lower energy availability than the forecast. The lower energy availability was due to net export of power by Mizoram and Tripura through bilateral contracts or through traders. Meghalaya did not face any energy shortage against an anticipated shortage of 6.8% due to lower energy requirement.

Out of all the above-mentioned techniques use of solar energy is easily available, clean and economic way to generate electricity. In India solar radiation is available sufficiently over the country. The dependency on non-renewable sources, will be decreased if extraction of solar power is increased. In long term it will also reduce carbon dioxide emission to the environment.

Figure 5: Acute power supply in north east India in terms of energy (Source:
Figure 6: Acute power supply in Northeast India in terms of peak (Source:

The extraction of electricity from solar energy in the north eastern region can be portrayed in different ways such as solar grid programme (table 2), solar parks (table 3), grid connected roof top and small solar power plant programme in the north eastern states (table 4).

The state-wise solar energy potential and solar capacity installed in the north eastern region states is given in the above table 2. The national solar mission aims to achieve a target of 100 GW. The ministry has selected the capacity of phase-II grid connected projects through various schemes such as bundling, generation-based incentive (GBI), viability gap funding (VGF). Depending upon the availability of resources the target capacity may be altered.

The following solar parks are been approved under the mentioned states in the north east region.


Having enormous potential, Northeast India acts as a role model of renewable and efficient energy process. The main reason behind solar energy generation of Northeast region is clear weather which adds up to huge generation of solar potential. As per NELIVE, solar power extracted in these regions is 5KWh per square metre. The Solar City Programme of MNRE will host the development of Guwahati and Jorhat (Assam), Dimapur and Kohima (Nagaland), Agartala, Tripura and Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh). NEEPCO aims to generate at least 1,500 MW of power from renewable energy in Northeast by 2020 under the united nation’s clean development mechanism initiative. From this it is clear that efficient use of solar energy in Northeast region will help India earn the dream of “renewable super power” in the near future.

Leave a Reply