Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Hits and misses: India’s Solar Power Energy Targets

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Renewable Energy in India

Mains level : India's ambitious RE targets and their success

India is likely to miss its 2022 target of installing 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity a/c to a report. This is because of rooftop solar lagging behind, the authors say.

India’s Solar Policy

  • Since 2011, India’s solar sector has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 59% from 0.5GW in 2011 to 55GW in 2021.
  • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), also known as the National Solar Mission (NSM), was commenced in January 2010.
  • It marked the first time the government focussed on promoting and developing solar power in India.
  • Under the scheme, the total installed capacity target was set as 20GW by 2022.
  • In 2015, the target was revised to 100GW and in August 2021, the government set a solar target of 300GW by 2030.

Solar energy: India among the peers

  • India currently ranks fifth after China, U.S., Japan and Germany in terms of installed solar power capacity.
  • As of December 2021, the cumulative solar installed capacity of India is 55GW, which is roughly half the renewable energy (RE) capacity (excluding large hydro power) and 14% of the overall power generation capacity of India.
  • Within the 55GW, grid-connected utility-scale projects contribute 77% and the rest comes from grid-connected rooftop and off-grid projects.

What does the new report say?

  • As of April, only about 50% of the 100GW target, consisting of 60GW of utility-scale and 40GW of rooftop solar capacity, has been met.
  • Nearly 19 GW of solar capacity is expected to be added in 2022 — 15.8GW from utility-scale and 3.5GW from rooftop solar.
  • Even accounting for this capacity would mean about 27% of India’s 100GW solar target would remain unmet.
  • A 25GW shortfall in the 40GW rooftop solar target, is expected compared to 1.8GW in the utility-scale solar target by December 2022.
  • Thus, it is in rooftop solar that the challenges of India’s solar-adoption policy stick out.

What is Solar Rooftop?

  • A solar photovoltaic (PV) system mounted on a rooftop of a building is a mini-power requirement or feed into the grid.
  • The size of the installation varies significantly depending on the availability of space, amount of electricity consumed by the property and the ability or willingness of the owner to invest the capital required.
  • In December 2015, the government launched the first phase of the grid-connected rooftop solar programme to incentivise its use in residential, institutional and social areas.
  • The second phase, approved in February 2019, had a target of 40GW of cumulative rooftop solar capacity by 2022, with incentives in the form of central financial assistance (CFA).
  • As of November 2021, of the phase 2 target of 4GW set for the residential sector, only 1.1GW had been installed.

Reasons for rooftop solar adoption not meeting targets

  • In its early years, India’s rooftop solar market struggled to grow, held back by lack of consumer awareness, inconsistent policy frameworks of the Centre/ State governments and financing.
  • Factors impeding rooftop-solar installation include:
  1. Pandemic-induced supply chain disruption to policy restrictions
  2. Regulatory roadblocks
  3. Limits to net-metering (or paying users who give back surplus electricity to the grid)
  4. Taxes on imported cells and modules
  5. Unsigned power supply agreements (PSAs) and banking restrictions
  6. Financing issues plus delays in or rejection of open access approval grants and
  7. The unpredictability of future open access charges

Other issues: India’s storage capacity

  • About 34 GW / 136 GWh of battery storage is expected to be installed by 2030, according to the Central Electricity Authority of India.
  • This capacity would be used for RE integration, demand-side and peak load management services.

Present state of progress

  • Recently, there has been a sharp rise in rooftop solar installations due to falling technology costs, increasing grid tariffs, rising consumer awareness and the growing need for cutting energy costs.
  • These factors are expected to persist giving a much-needed boost to this segment.
  • Going ahead, rooftop solar adoption is expected to proportionally increase as land and grid-connectivity for utility solar projects are expected to be hard to come by.

Significance of solar power to India’s commitment

  • Solar power is a major prong of India’s commitment to address global warming according to the terms of the Paris Agreement, as well as achieving net zero, or no net carbon emissions, by 2070.
  • PM at the COP Glasgow, in November 2021, said India would be reaching a non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030 and meet half its energy requirements via renewable energy by 2030.
  • To boost the renewable energy installation drive in the long term, the Centre in 2020 set a target of 450GW of RE capacity to be achieved by 2030, within which the target for solar was 300GW.
  • Given the challenge of integrating variable renewable energy into the grid, most of the RE capacity installed in the latter half of this decade is likely to be based on wind solar hybrid (WSH).

Way forward

  • Supportive policies and innovative technological approaches are needed for the sector to achieve its potential.
  • Indian policymakers need to plan for rooftop solar plus storage, rather than rooftop solar alone with the grid as storage (net / gross metering).
  • The declining cost of storage solutions, along with that of rooftop solar solutions, is likely to change the future of the Indian power sector.
  • Several countries such as Australia, the United States, Germany, among others have already endorsed solar power with battery storage.
  • Energy storage, therefore, represents a huge economic opportunity for India.
  • The creation of a conducive battery manufacturing ecosystem on a fast track could cement India’s opportunity for radical economic and industrial transformation in a critical and fast-growing global market.

Also read:

[Sansad TV] Global Solar Grid

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