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

Solar energy & India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : International solar alliance.

Mains level : Energy security.

 

Context

  • Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said that civilisation will be mostly solar-powered in the future, a world without Sun will turn into a dark ice ball as the Earth gets all of its energy from it.

Definition of solar energy

  • Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the Sun that is harnessed using a range of technologies such as solar power to generate electricity, solar thermal energy, and solar architecture.

India’s solar target.

  • Target: India is targeting about 500 GW by 2030, of renewable energy deployment, out of which ~280 GW is expected from solar PV. This necessitates the deployment of nearly 30 GW of solar capacity every year until 2030.
  • 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.

International solar alliance and India’s pledge

  • Climate action commitment: It symbolizes about the sincerity of the developing nations towards their concern about climate change and to switch to a low-carbon growth path.
  • Clean energy: India’s pledge to the Paris summit offered to bring 40% of its electricity generation capacity from non-fossil sources (renewable, large hydro, and nuclear) by 2030.
  • Global electrification: India has pledged to let solar energy reach to the most unconnected villages and communities and also towards creating a clean planet.
  • Global cooperation: It is based on world cooperation irrespective of global boundaries.
  • India’s Soft power: For India, possible additional benefits from the alliance can be a strengthening of ties with the major African countries and increasing goodwill for India among them.

Some Interesting facts

Solar power is the most abundant energy source on earth.

Solar is the cheapest source of energy in the world.

Solar electricity has been around since 1839.

Solar panels can produce power without direct sunlight.

Challenges before solar future

  • High Imports: Indian solar deployment or installation companies depend heavily on imports. It currently imports 100% of silicon wafers and around 80% of cells even at the current deployment levels.
  • Field deployment: Also, out of the 15 GW of module manufacturing capacity, only 3-4 GW of modules are technologically competitive and worthy of deployment in grid-based projects.
  • Land issue: Land, the most expensive part of solar projects, is scarce in India — and Indian industry has no choice but to move towards newer and superior technologies as part of expansion plans.
  • Lack of investment: India has hardly invested in this sector which can help the industry to try and test the technologies in a cost-effective manner.

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.

Conclusion

  • In the foreseeable future, one can witness a just and equitable energy order if solar energy, along with other forms of renewable energy, can be harnessed more positively.

Mains question

Q. Fossil fuels have a 60% share in India’s total energy mix in this context discuss solar future for India with challenges for the same.

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