Prime Minister Narendra Modi on said India is considered the most attractive clean energy market because of the tremendous progress in this field and added solar energy will play a key role in achieving the Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) goal. He called solar energy pure, sure, and secure. “It is sure because other sources of energy might be depleted but not of the sun. It will always continue to shine. It is pure because it helps the environment instead of polluting it and secure because it is a symbol of self-reliance,” said Modi while inaugurating Asia’s biggest–750 MW –solar power plant in Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa via video conferencing.

Modi said when policy markers were in a dilemma globally whether to focus on the economy or environment and took decisions, either way, India had shown the way that they complemented each other.

“Whether it is Swachh Bharat [Clean India] campaign or campaign to provide LPG and PNG to every family or building the network of CNG-based transport system across the country or efforts for electricity-based transport in the country, several such measures are being undertaken for making the lives of people better in an environment-friendly manner,” he said.

He added this is why environment protection and ease of living are being given preference in all government programmes. “For us, protection of the environment is not confined to a few projects but it is a way of life. When we are launching big projects of renewable energy, we are trying to ensure that our resolve towards clean energy is reflected in every aspect of our life, and also our efforts are to see that its benefit goes to every citizen, every class and every part of the country.”

 

Modi said 360 million LED bulbs have been distributed across the country and over 10 million fitted in street lights over the last six years. He added prices of LED bulbs were once beyond the common man’s reach. In the past six years, the prices have reduced 10 times and people were now using 9-10 watt instead of 100-200 watt bulbs, he said. As a result, he said, the consumption of power has been reduced by 6 billion units and people save Rs 24,000 crore annually. Modi added it has also prevented 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the environment and thus pollution level came down.

Modi cited the government’s policy on solar power and added the price of solar energy has come down to Rs 2-2.50 per unit from Rs 7-8 per unit in 2014. He added it has benefitted industries, employment generation, and people. “There is a discussion going on in the entire world as to how solar energy is so low-priced in India. When there is a discussion on renewable energy in the world, India is being seen as a model.”

Modi said the solar power potential cannot be utilised completely till the country has better solar panels, battery, and storage capacity. “Work is going on in this direction. The country’s aim under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is to do away with our dependence on imports for various hardware including solar panels. Necessary steps are being taken to enhance the manufacturing of solar PV modules.”

 

Modi asked entrepreneurs, youths, and startups to take advantage of the country’s potential in the solar energy field. “It has been made mandatory to use solar photovoltaic cells and modules made in India in pumps under Kusum [Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan] scheme and rooftop panels on houses. It has been decided that the government departments and other government institutions will only purchase made in India solar cells or modules. At the same time, the government is encouraging the companies which are setting up power plants to manufacture solar photovoltaic.”

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the foundation for the Rs 4000 crore project was laid in 2017 and the power it will produce will cost Rs 2.97 per unit, which is the lowest rate in the country. “From the environmental point of view, emission of 15.7 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide is being prevented…which is equal to planting 26 million trees. …24% of the power produced is going to the Delhi Metro.”

NATION SOLAR MISSION

The National Solar Mission is an initiative of the Government of India and State Governments to promote solar power. The mission is one of the several policies of the National Action Plan on Climate Change. The program was inaugurated as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 11 January 2010 with a target of 20 GW by 2022. This was later increased to 100 GW by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2015 Union budget of India. India increased its utility solar power generation capacity by nearly 5 times from 2,650 MW on 26 May 2014 to 12,288.83 MW on 31 March 2017. The country added 9,362.65 MW in 2017–18, the highest of any year. The original target of 20 GW was surpassed in 2018 (counting only utility installed capacity), four years ahead of the 2022 deadline.

India had a total rooftop solar installed capacity of 6.1 GW as of 30 June 2021.

The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible. Under the original plan, the Government aimed to achieve a total installed solar capacity of 20 GW by 2022. This was proposed to be achieved in three phase. The first phase comprised the period from 2010 to 2013, the first year of the 12th five-year plan. The second phase extended up to 2017, while the third phase would have been the 13th five-year plan (2017–22). Targets were set as 1.4 GW in the first phase, 11–15 GW by the end of the second phase and 22 GW by the end of the third phase in 2022.

The Government revised the target from 20 GW to 100 GW on 1 July 2015. To reach 100 GW by 2022, the yearly targets from 2015 to 2016 onwards were also revised upwards.] India had an installed solar capacity of 161 MW on 31 March 2010, about 2 and half months after the mission was launched on 11 January. By 31 March 2015, three months before the targets were revised, India had achieved an installed solar capacity of 3,744 MW.]

Year-wise targets

To meet the scaled up target of 100,000 MW, MNRE has proposed to achieve it through 60 GW of large and medium scale solar projects, and 40 GW through rooftop solar projects.

Year-wise Targets (in MW)

Category

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

2021–22

Total

Rooftop Solar

200

4,800

5,000

6,000

7,000

8,000

9,000

40,000

Ground Mounted Solar projects

1,800

7,200

10,000

10,000

10,000

9,500

8,500

57,000

Total

2,000

12,000

15,000

16,000

17,000

17,500

17,500

97,000

Growth of utilities installed solar capacity

The following table records the growth of the utilities installed solar capacity in India for every year of the National Solar Mission. All capacities are as on 31 March of the listed year.

Rooftop solar capacity

India had a total rooftop solar installed capacity of 6.1 GW as of 30 June 2021. The country added 862 MW of rooftop solar capacity during the first half of 2021, recording a 210% increase over the same period in 2020.

Domestic content complaint

Guidelines for the solar mission mandated cells and modules for solar PV projects based on crystalline silicon to be manufactured in India. That accounts to over 60% of total system costs. For solar thermal, guidelines mandated 30% project to have domestic content. A vigorous controversy emerged between power project developers and solar PV equipment manufacturers. The former camp prefers to source modules by accessing highly competitive global market to attain flexible pricing, better quality, predictable delivery and use of latest technologies. The latter camp prefers a controlled/planned environment to force developers to purchase modules from a small, albeit growing, group of module manufacturers in India. Manufacturers want to avoid competition with global players and are lobbying the government to incentivize growth of local industry.

Market responded to domestic content requirement by choosing to procure thin film modules from well established international players. A significant number of announced project completions are using modules from outside India.

US Trade Representative has filed a complaint at World Trade Organization challenging India’s domestic content requirements in Phase II of this Mission, citing discrimination against US exports and that industry in US which has invested hugely will be at loss. US insists that such restrictions are prohibited by WTO. India however claims that it is only an attempt to grow local potential and to ensure self sustenance and reduce dependence.

SOLAR SYSTEMS

Solar power, also known as solar electricity, is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaic’s (PV) or indirectly using concentrated solar powerSolar panels use the photovoltaic effect to convert light into an electric current. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and solar tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight to a hot spot, often to drive a steam turbine.

Photovoltaics were initially solely used as a source of electricity for small and medium-sized applications, from the calculator powered by a single solar cell to remote homes powered by an off-grid rooftop PV system. Commercial concentrated solar power plants were first developed in the 1980s. Since then, as the cost of solar panels has fallen, grid-connected solar PV systems‘ capacity and production has doubled about every three years. Three-quarters of new generation capacity is solar, with both millions of rooftop installations and gigawatt-scale photovoltaic power stations continuing to be built.

In 2023, solar generated 5% of the world’s electricity compared to 1% in 2015, when the Paris Agreement to limit climate change was signed. Along with onshore wind, in most countries, the cheapest levelised cost of electricity for new installations is utility-scale solar.

Almost half the solar power installed in 2022 was rooftop. Much more low-carbon power is needed for electrification and to limit climate change. The International Energy Agency said in 2022 that more effort was needed for grid integration and the mitigation of policy, regulation and financing challenges.

Geography affects solar energy potential because different locations receive different amounts of solar radiation. In particular, with some variations, areas that are closer to the equator generally receive higher amounts of solar radiation. However, solar panels that can follow the position of the Sun can significantly increase the solar energy potential in areas that are farther from the equator. Daytime cloud cover can reduce the light available for solar cells. Besides, land availability has a large effect on the available solar energy.

Photovoltaic cells

solar cell, or photovoltaic cell, is a device that converts light into electric current using the photovoltaic effect. The first solar cell was constructed by Charles Fritts in the 1880s. The German industrialist Ernst Werner von Siemens was among those who recognized the importance of this discovery. In 1931, the German engineer Bruno Lange developed a photo cell using silver selenide in place of copper oxide

although the prototype selenium cells converted less than 1% of incident light into electricity. Following the work of Russell Ohl in the 1940s, researchers Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin created the silicon solar cell in 1954. These early solar cells cost US$286/watt and reached efficiencies of 4.5–6%. In 1957, Mohamed M. Atalla developed the process of silicon surface passivation by thermal oxidation at Bell Labs. The surface passivation process has since been critical to solar cell efficiency.

As of 2022 over 90% of the market is crystalline silicon. The array of a photovoltaic system, or PV system, produces direct current (DC) power which fluctuates with the sunlight’s intensity. For practical use this usually requires conversion to alternating current (AC), through the use of inverters. Multiple solar cells are connected inside panels. Panels are wired together to form arrays, then tied to an inverter, which produces power at the desired voltage, and for AC, the desired frequency/phase.

Many residential PV systems are connected to the grid wherever available, especially in developed countries with large markets. In these grid-connected PV systems, use of energy storage is optional. In certain applications such as satellites, lighthouses, or in developing countries, batteries or additional power generators are often added as back-ups. Such stand-alone power systems permit operations at night and at other times of limited sunlight.

In “vertical agrivoltaics” system, solar cells are oriented vertically on farmland, to allow the land to both grow crops and generate renewable energy. Other configurations include floating solar farms, placing solar canopies over parking lots, and installing solar panels on roofs.

Thin-film solar

thin-film solar cell is a second generation solar cell that is made by depositing one or more thin layers, or thin film (TF) of photovoltaic material on a substrate, such as glass, plastic or metal. Thin-film solar cells are commercially used in several technologies, including cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), and amorphous thin-film silicon (a-Si, TF-Si).

Perovskite solar cells

perovskite solar cell 

(PSC) is a type of solar cell that includes a perovskite-structured compound, most commonly a hybrid organic–inorganic lead or tin halide-based material as the light-harvesting active layer. Perovskite materials, such as methyl ammonium lead halides and all-inorganic cesium lead halide, are cheap to produce and simple to manufacture.

Solar-cell efficiencies of laboratory-scale devices using these materials have increased from 3.8% in 2009 to 25.7% in 2021 in single-junction architectures, and, in silicon-based tandem cells, to 29.8%, exceeding the maximum efficiency achieved in single-junction silicon solar cells. Perovskite solar cells have therefore been the fastest-advancing solar technology as of 2016. With the potential of achieving even higher efficiencies and very low production costs, perovskite solar cells have become commercially attractive. Core problems and research subjects include their short- and long-term stability.

Hybrid systems

A hybrid system combines solar with energy storage and/or one or more other forms of generation. Hydro, wind and batteries are commonly combined with solar. The combined generation may enable the system to vary power output with demand, or at least smooth the solar power fluctuation. There is a lot of hydro worldwide, and adding solar panels on or around existing hydro reservoirs is particularly useful, because hydro is usually more flexible than wind and cheaper at scale than batteries, and existing power lines can sometimes be used.

Concentrating solar power stations

Commercial concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, also called “solar thermal power stations”, were first developed in the 1980s. The 377  MW Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, located in California’s Mojave Desert, is the world’s largest solar thermal power plant project. Other large CSP plants include the Solnova Solar Power Station (150 MW), the Andasol solar power station (150 MW), and Extresol Solar Power Station (150 MW), all in Spain. The principal advantage of CSP is the ability to efficiently add thermal storage, allowing the dispatching of electricity over up to a 24-hour period. Since peak electricity demand typically occurs at about 5 pm, many CSP power plants use 3 to 5 hours of thermal storage.