Why is India promoting solar adoption: Assessing the country’s position
As the world’s second most populous country, India’s aggressively growing population struggles to receive their fair end of energy. An MIT study reveals that more than 75 million global households do not receive their portion of electricity from conventional power grids but rather from sources like solar home systems, solar lanterns, and local solar-based micrograms. Combined with seasonal heat waves and power shortages, the adoption of renewable energy, especially solar, holds a promising potential to overcome challenges around too many people and limited non-renewable resources.
India’s ambitious targets around solar energy
Currently, India’s vision is to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2070, which includes increasing renewable capacity to 500GW by 2030, meeting 50% of energy requirements from renewables, reducing emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030, and reducing GDP’s emissions intensity by 45% by 2030. As of October 2022, India’s solar installed capacity was 61.625 GW, including rooftop and ground-mounted solar panels, ranking fourth in global solar power generation.
Yet, over 250 million Indians still do not have access to electricity, which is why India’s aggressive adoption of solar energy is a gamechanger for its citizens and also to meet their global targets of tackling climate change, global warming, and staying competitive and at the top in the solar energy ecosystem.
Getting solar projects off the ground is not a cakewalk. For starters, you need to check the policies and regulatory frameworks, overcome your confusion around adopting new technology and encourage private capital to flow. While India knows that renewable energy is the only way to satisfy the energy needs of millions and billions of its citizens, the government is also encouraging significant incentives for companies and people to adopt solar energy.
However, India is setting benchmarks around the world for their solar adoption. From concessional finance to building solar parks, forging encouraging policies around the energy’s adaption, and bringing private sector companies into play, the expansion and development of solar in India are lessons in energy investments for the world.
India’s appetite for solar has turned the country into the world’s cheapest producer
Globally, renewable energy has become a must for power generation, and India’s growing status as a low-cost producer of solar power reflects the country’s appetite for global energy transformation. An IRENA analysis shows that the cost of installing solar PV projects dropped by 80% in India between 2010 -18.
India’s story has become a business case for the world towards energy decarbonization at reduced technology costs. The country has understood the affordability of managing and running a solar farm than coal-fired power plants. Plus, the environmental benefits of renewable energy have become a significant driver of the country’s adoption. As the country is on its way to becoming the most populous one in the world, its power consumption will only rise. Therefore, adopting an alternative form of energy, one that takes advantage of its temperate, all-around-the-year-sun climate, is an ideal way to balance economic growth, build a sustainable environment, and provide electricity to all its citizens.
However, the growth of the sector is nothing short of a success story and is accredited to the following:
#1: Role of the Indian Government
As the world’s fourth largest solar power generator, India set aggressive targets and put several policies into practice to achieve this stature. India’s specialized bodies, like the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), have played a pivotal role in accelerating the adoption of solar energy in India. When India commenced its solar adoption, the cost of solar power was INR 17/unit, whereas now it is INR 2.44/unit. The tariff-based bidding undertaken via tenders and various public awareness campaigns have made it possible to adopt solar at such a logarithmic rate.
#2: Incentives and Policies
The subsidies provided by the government and Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission since 2010 have and still play an instrumental role in promoting solar energy growth in the country. Rooftop solar plants and solar farms have been the top segments to witness this growth. Other incentives provided by Accelerated Depreciation Benefits have been a significant source of relief for solar companies in India.
#3: Land availability
Land acquisition has always been a problem in India. Since land constitutes 7% of a large solar project, the MNRE Solar Park policy, which came into effect in 2016, allowed state governments to identify large land tracts with proper insolation levels and non-agricultural land areas and establish solar parks there. This is why solar cost per unit today is meager, and there is no uncertainty regarding land acquisition for solar projects.
#4: Low-cost labor
The installation of solar plants requires 20-30% of a highly skilled workforce, whereas the rest are semi-skilled or unskilled labor, readily available at affordable rates. This is one of the reasons why the government of India supports solar, as it leads to creating more unskilled and semi-skilled jobs that accelerate economic growth.
#5: Price sensitivity
India’s success story is all about becoming the cheapest producer of solar power despite the challenges around land acquisition, lack of stable policies, and high capital costs as compared to other South Asian countries. A proper national solar policy has also removed all bottlenecks at the state level and accelerated the adoption of solar energy.
The future of solar energy in India is bright and promising
Solar energy will significantly contribute to India’s economic growth in the coming years. With the support received by the advent of EVs, renewable energy will become a driver in the world’s changing infrastructure. However, in India, the government’s support, leading solar panel installation companies in India building long-term project visibility, and the general public finding solar cheaper than conventional electricity will secure its position in the global renewable energy market.