Solar Power in India
An Overview of India’s Solar Power
India is one of the fastest developing solar markets in the world. With a total solar output of 20 GW as of 2018, the country is set to expand its solar power generation to 100 GW by 2022. India is on its way to becoming the third biggest solar country after China and US. According to a recent study, India has in
stalled more rooftop solar panels in 2018 than the last four years combined. This has made solar power the fastest growing alternative energy source in the country. In 2017, compared to the previous year's 227 MW, a total of 715 MW was added to India's solar power.
Reduction in solar panel and power generation costs
This boom in solar adoption of solar modules has come about because of a reduction in prices of solar panels. This has made solar power a cheaper source of commercial or industrial power in most of the major states in the country. The costs of solar panels in India are lower than the global average by 40%-50%. The costs of solar power generation have nearly been reduced by 50% in the last five years.
Increase in installation capacities
There are government-sponsored incentives and policies in place that promote the use of solar power. For example, in 2017 the government conducted an auction to dictate companies to adopt over 1 GW of solar rooftop power modules.
Installation capacities of solar panels are also on the rise. In 2015, the average capacity of a rooftop solar panel was around 250 KW. In 2018 it has risen to 855 KW. This is the result of an increase in the awareness of customers who now prefer to generate their own solar power, rather than purchasing electricity. Also, there has been an improvement in rooftop space utilization where currently you have buildings and apartments with pre-allocated spaces for panels.
Obsolete government policies and infrastructure
Most of the rise in solar power generation can be attributed to the commercial or industrial sector. Without considering net metering, the financial benefits for such businesses are evident. But, domestic or the use of residential rooftop panels has not seen such an increase in popularity. There are numerous setbacks like a high capital requirement, cheaper grid electricity, lack of diverse payment of financing plans among others. Net metering policies are also unregulated in states like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The net metering in such states is non-binding.
Added to this is the reluctance of Indian distribution companies and grid managers to switch to solar. Since solar power would hurt their profits by making consumers independent, the transition is not taken seriously. There are also a lot of technical constraints concerning Indian distribution systems. Not all utilities are properly equipped to supply rooftop generated power to the grid. There are sudden spikes during the day and reverse currents at night. Unless India invests in enhancing their power storage capabilities, solar power will be expensive and difficult for domestic users.