India : SOLAR ENERGY NEEDS BIGGER BREAKTHROUGH

India can easily become a world leader in solar energy. Our current solar power installed capacity is around 3 GW, which is 0.5% of the estimated potential

In a big push to encourage energy efficient measures, especially rooftop solar power generation, India’s first rooftop solar plant on a carport at a commercial mall ‘Unity One’ in Rohini was inaugurated recently. Tata Power Delhi Distribution and Tata Power Solar have jointly executed the 300 KW plant.

This first of its kind plant which is expected to generate 4,20,000 units of green energy annually will empower the complex’s day-to-day operations meeting 80 per cent of its electricity demand, while reducing the carbon footprint of around 438 metric tonnes (MT) every year. The plant will help ‘Unity Mall’ save of Rs 50 lakh annually on electricity bill and Rs 12 crore over the entire plant life. The initiative is in line with climate change agenda for Delhi and the ‘National Solar Mission’ and is set up as part of ‘National Action Plan on Climate Change’ (NAPCC).

The grid-connected, rooftop-based PV power plants supervised by Tata Power-DDL have a life span of 25 years, wherein 1KW of PV power plant will generate up to 1,400 units in a year. Consumers and institutions can also sell the surplus power generated to the Discom, and attain breakeven on investment in five years. This initiative though commendable still pales in front of the tremendous progress made by solar energy in many parts of the world and for that matter in many other cities of India as well. The National Solar Mission, which aims to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, has a long way to go before the objective is achieved.

India is in a unique position to extract the full advantage of alternative sources of energy such as solar power. Given the huge population and the consequent pressure on natural resources, particularly energy-India can set new milestones in the manner in which solar energy can be innovatively and thoroughly be used to cater to the burgeoning energy demand. India’s current solar power installed capacity is around 3 GW, which is 0.5% of the estimated potential. Naturally there exists a massive opportunity to tap this potential and with the right policies in place backed by efficient implementation, India can easily become a world leader in solar energy. This solar endeavor could also help address acute power shortages, and make a real difference in slowing the pace of climate change.

A green energy revolution is needed in India that can increase prosperity for millions of poor families by harnessing the abundant and clean energy of the sun and since being elected in May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strived to achieve the same by aiming to increasing India's renewable energy capacity five-fold from 30 gigawatts to 175 gigawatts, including a boost in solar power generation from 20 GW to 100 GW. The plan is to achieve these targets by 2022. India's ambitious solar energy plans can only see the light of the day if they are backed by a national energy policy, regulatory programs and innovative financing mechanisms that encourage the development of distributed energy, particularly applications that combine solar generation with efficient energy storage solutions.

As a first step towards this, India must invite solar energy experts and developers so that the revised targets of 100 GW of solar and 75 MW of wind by 2022 and beyond are successfully met. Additionally, the government must expedite renewable energy powered public transportation, the current pace of initiatives are simply not enough to get a breakthrough needed. The use of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, and deployment of solar-powered EV charging stations around the country need to be stepped up. Moreover, development and implementation of"time-of-day" pricing must be applied which will encourage charging of vehicles at night and other times when peak demand is low. These measures coupled with zero-emission battery-powered electric buses in all major cities will not only reduce air pollution but also help reverse climate change.

The government must also focus on providing innovative financing solutions such as tax-free solar bonds or green infrastructure bonds to acceleratethe access to credit at globally competitive rates. This will instill more confidence from potential investors and decrease the cost of financing for renewable energy projects. Similarly, large-scale "Solar Manufacturing Hubs" also need to be developed in India to facilitate mass production of solar energy equipment at competitive costs.Thanks to the drive shown by the present government, India is standing on the threshold of a green energy revolution that can light up a new era of energy, economic and environmental security. But to achieve this goal India needs a breakthroughin how it produces, distributes and consumes energy. If India gets this right, the dependence on fossil fuels can be ended besides creating millions of new jobs.

 

Source : http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/oped/solar-energy-needs-bigger-breakthrough.html

SMART GRID Bulletin November 2017


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