Solar energy in India

India, a rapidly growing economy with more than 1 billion people, is facing a huge energy demand. The country stands fifth in the world in the production and consumption of electricity. The electricity production has expanded over the years but we cannot deny the fact that the population of the country is also expanding. The power produced in the country is mostly from coal (53%) and it is predicted that country’s coal reserves won’t last beyond 2040-50. More than 72% population living in villages and half of the villages remain without electricity. It’s high time that our country should concentrate more on energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy. To meet this surging demand, solar energy is the best form of energy to fulfill the energy needs of India and bridge the energy demand-supply gap.

Solar Energy in India

India has tremendous scope of generating solar energy. The geographical location of the country stands to its benefit for generating solar energy. The reason being India is a tropical country and it receives solar radiation almost throughout the year, which amounts to 3,000 hours of sunshine. This is equal to more than 5,000 trillion kWh. Almost all parts of India receive 4-7 kWh of solar radiation per sq metres. This is equivalent to 2,300–3,200 sunshine hours per year. States like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, and West Bengal have great potential for tapping solar energy due to their location. Since majority of the population lives in rural areas, there is much scope for solar energy being promoted in these areas. Use of solar energy can reduce the use of firewood and dung cakes by rural household.

Advantages of  Solar Energy in India

Some of the advantages of solar energy which makes it all the more suitable for India are as follows:

  • This is an inexhaustible source of energy and the best replacement to other non-renewable energies in India.
  • Solar energy is environment friendly. When in use, it does not release CO2 and other gases which pollute the air. Hence it is very suitable for India, India being one of the most polluted countries of the world.
  • Solar energy can be used for variety of purposes like as heating, drying, cooking or electricity, which is suitable for the rural areas in India. It can also be used in cars, planes, large power boats, satellites, calculators and many more such items, just apt for the urban population.
  • Solar power is inexhaustible. In an energy deficient country like India, where power generation is costly, solar energy is the best alternate means of power generation.
  • You don’t need a power or gas grid to get solar energy. A solar energy system can be installed anywhere. Solar panels can be easily placed in houses. Hence, it is quite inexpensive compared to other sources of energy.

Disadvantages of  Solar Energy in India

  • We cannot generate energy during the night time with solar energy.
  • And, also during day time, the weather may be cloudy or rainy, with little or no sun radiation. Hence, this makes solar energy panels less reliable as a solution.
  • Only those areas that receive good amount of sunlight are suitable for producing solar energy.
  • Solar panels also require inverters and storage batteries to convert direct electricity to alternating electricity so as to generate electricity. While installing a solar panel is quite cheap, installing other equipments becomes expensive.
  • The land space required to install a solar plant with solar panel is quite large and that land space remains occupied for many years altogether and cannot be used for other purposes.
  • Energy production is quite low compared to other forms of energy.
  • Solar panels require considerable maintenance as they are fragile and can be easily damaged. So extra expenses are incurred as additional insurance costs.

Solar Energy Power in India : Future

In solar energy sector, many large projects have been proposed in India.

  • Thar Desert has some of India’s best solar power projects, estimated to generate 700 to 2,100 GW.
  • On March 1st, 2014, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, inaugurated at Diken in Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh, India’s biggest solar power plant.
  • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) launched by the Centre is targeting 20,000 MW of solar energy power by 2022
  • Gujarat’s pioneering solar power policy aims at 1,000 MW of solar energy generation.
  • In July 2009, a $19 billion solar power plan was unveiled which projected to produce 20 GW of solar power by 2020.
  • About 66 MW is installed for various applications in the rural area, amounting to be used in solar lanterns, street lighting systems and solar water pumps, etc.

India is slowly gaining its prominence in the generation of solar power due to the comprehensive and ambitious state and the Centre’s solar policies and projects and National Solar Mission. In the latest 2014 budget, Finance Minister Jaitley declared that the Government has proposed an amount of 500 crore rupees to develop some mega solar power plants in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Ladakh. He also said that solar power-driven agricultural water pumping stations and 1 MW solar parks on canal banks will be developed in the country at an estimated cost of $74 million and $18.5 million, respectively. Considering all these facts, we do have a bright picture in front of us as India’s potential to be a solar power driven country of the world.