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

Aug, 11, 2018

[op-ed snap] Let China pay for India’s solar push


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy & their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Restrcictions on the import of products from China & its impacts on overall economy


Tariffs on Chinese solar panels

  1. The government has imposed a safeguard duty (SGD) on solar cells and modules from China and Malaysia, effective 30 July
  2. About 85% of India’s solar cells come from both countries
  3. The argument for such a trade intervention is the rising “dependency” on China on one hand and economic and employment loss on the other

Tariffs counterproductive

  1. From an environmental, economic as well as (energy) security standpoint, such tariffs are unfortunately counterproductive
  2. India’s current production of solar cells and modules is much less sophisticated and not competitive enough to replace the Chinese product
  3. Catching up with China would require tremendous capital investment—with no promise of return as the decreasing prices further reduce profit margins
  4. China can offer low prices due to economies of scale

Time to act is now

  1. Germany’s solar industry has already experienced this conundrum
  2. Once prosperous and driven by subsidies, it could not keep up with China’s low-cost production
  3. It has the same problem with another technology too
  4. Today, nine out of 10 batteries are produced in China, South Korea or Japan

Impact on employment

  1. Import tariffs will raise the general price levels for solar cells and solar photovoltaic power plants, the number of installations will drop and employment will be affected
  2. Solar cell and module production is a highly automated process, which requires high-end precision machines rather than headcount
  3. The real job potential is in installation and maintenance
  4. It is this field which will be negatively affected

Consumers will also suffer

  1. Ultimately, the consumer will pay the premium
  2. Higher energy prices drive costs while lower energy prices drive the economy
  3. A growing economy increases energy demand—and prices if energy supply does not grow accordingly
  4. An import tax on solar cells ironically undermines India’s own magic formula for the energy transition
  5. India wants an effective carbon emissions reduction along with economic development and electrification of the country

Imports can continue from China

  1. Instead of a threat to India’s security and economy, China’s subsidized solar sector can be seen as a gift
  2. China practically pays for India’s energy transition, which will help to end the dependency on fossil fuels and will reduce the effects on climate and public health in the long run
  3. Given the chance to get the transition subsidized by another country, the Indian government’s introduction of the SGD seems irrational
  4. It will increase solar power rates to around ₹3 per unit, diminish employment potential, reduce power supply, and drive up energy prices

Way Forward

  1. The ambitious target of 175GW renewable energy capacity by 2022—now raised to 227GW—could lead to a price drop in energy prices if realized
  2. Coal, often pushed as the perfect energy source for India, will further lose its significance
  3. This is why the energy transition is inevitable
Jun, 26, 2018

ISA plans global solar bank to finance $150 billion of power projects


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance, World Solar Bank

Mains level: India’s renewable energy commitments and efforts in that direction


ISA plans SPV for new projects

  1. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) plans to approach multilateral development banks (MDBs) such as Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to specifically finance solar projects.
  2. This SPV aimed at financing $150 billion would become a World Solar Bank.
  3. The concept note for the solar bank will be shortly circulated by ISA to all eight MDBs with which the first treaty-based international government organization based in India has signed joint declarations.

Proposed World Solar Bank

  1. The proposal for a World Solar Bank comes against the backdrop of ISA’s mission to undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and the cost of technology.
  2. It needs to mobilize more than $1,000 billion of investments by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy and pave the way for future technologies.
  3. ISA has inked joint declarations with the World Bank, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, AIIB, New Development Bank, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for enhancing cooperation in the solar energy area.

Seeking help from AIIB

  1. China has a 31.02% stake in AIIB, while India, with 8.72% stake, is the second-largest stakeholder.
  2. ISA also plans to leverage AIIB’s reach to build a global solar energy ecosystem.
  3. According to the contours of the initial plan, five common member countries between ISA and AIIB will be identified for financing more solar projects by the Beijing-headquartered bank.
  4. ISA also plans to draw up a two-year playbook for training manpower, thereby creating local employment in countries where AIIB has financed solar projects.

Other works by ISA

  1. ISA has also been working on a $300-billion risk mitigation fund as part of a strategy to create a sustainable financing architecture for solar projects worldwide.
  2. India has sought project financing totaling $2.40 billion from the AIIB. The bank will also invest $200 million in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) of India.
  3. The fund will be used to insure solar power projects against risks such as default in payment by electricity procurers, foreign exchange fluctuations and regime change.
  4. This, in turn, will help attract investors to space.

Blueprint of the ISA Plan

  1. The idea is that ISA aims to tie up with those member countries, where AIIB has sanctioned projects for the training of people who will look after these project
  2. Why projects fail is because there is nobody to take care of them. Hence ISA is establishing backward linkages.
  3. ISA is trying to identify their member countries of AIIB and ISA member countries who are common.
  4. Out of those countries, it will select five countries, where AIIB can actually give more projects (financing).


International Solar Alliance

  1. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
  2. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  3. The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization
  4. The alliance is also called International Agency for Solar Policy and Application (IASPA)
  5. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is to be headquartered in India
  6. The initiative was launched by PM Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015
Jun, 26, 2018

Suryashakti Kisan Yojna: Gujarat Govt launches solar scheme to double farm income


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Suryashakti Kisan Yojana

Mains level: The newscard discusses the aspiring project of Gujarat govt, which can be taken as a trial for implementing such project at a national level.


Suryashakti Kisan Yojna

  1. The Gujarat government launched Suryashakti Kisan Yojna (SKY) under which grid-connected solar panels will be provided to over 12,000 cultivators who have already taken regular electricity connections for irrigation purpose.
  2. This is for the first time in the country that farmers will be able to produce solar energy, consume as much as they need and sell the remaining.
  3. This is a revolutionary step after Jyoti Gram Yojna that brought round-the-clock electricity in the villages.
  4. Using solar panels, which will be connected to the feeders, farmers would get 12 hours of power supply for their pumps during the daytime.

Easy Credit and Alternate source of income

  1. The biggest advantage of this project is that the farmers, after using required electricity generated from solar panels, can sell additional electricity to the government and earn good income out of it.
  2. The scheme is a step towards realizing PM Modi’s dream of doubling farmer income by 2022.
  3. The state government will bear 60 percent, while farmers will have to shell out only 5 percent cost of setting up solar panels in their fields under the scheme, which will have a duration of 25 years.
  4. For the remaining 35 per cent cost, farmers will be given the option of a low-interest loan, which they have to pay in seven years.
  5. During that period, the government will buy electricity from them at Rs 7 per unit. For the next 18 years, it will buy additional electricity at Rs 3.5 per unit.
Mar, 29, 2018

[op-ed snap] A solar gear shift


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WTO, DCR scheme, trade remedies, etc.

Mains level: Complement this newscard with our previous newscards on the same issue of Solar Power.


Special attention from the Indian Government

  1. The 2018 Economic Survey identifies renewable energy as a champion sector under the Make in India 2.0 programme

An important issue

  1.  India currently meets almost 90% of its annual requirement of solar panels through imports (mainly China), impeding the growth of a nascent domestic solar manufacturing sector

Some important questions

  1. Policy support for the solar sector is increasingly focussed on domestic manufacturing, both in the form of capital subsidies and considerations of trade regulation
  2. However, are these interventions the right signals to send to an already uncertain solar sector?
  3. Do they comply with the global trade regime?
  4. And will they keep our renewable energy (RE) ambitions on track?

Examination of the above questions
FIRST: Issues related to trade remedies

  1. Implementing trade remedies that have anti-competition implications has become commonplace, with clean energy becoming its newest victim
  2. Trade remedies are trade policy tools that allow governments to take remedial action against imports which are causing material injury to a domestic industry
  3. Trade remedies are attractive because they create tangible short-term benefits such as job creation, reduction in trade deficit, and higher local tax collection
  4. However, such a move would also result in higher tariffs and make solar power less attractive for the already financially strained and RE-sceptical utilities

SECOND: Compliance with the global trade regime

  1. It is vital that India remains compliant with the global trade regime
  2. Previous measures (for example, the domestic content requirement or DCR scheme) to assuage the concerns of the domestic solar manufacturers were challenged and overturned at the World Trade Organisation WTO
  3. The DCR scheme did not impose any restrictions on imported sources and only sought to secure an assured market for domestically manufactured panels
  4. Prioritising domestic goals without complying with international trade rules affects the much-needed stakeholder confidence required to achieve India’s clean energy target

THIRD: Inter-ministerial conflict

  1. India’s solar sector is currently caught in inter-ministerial cross-fire
  2. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has been grappling with issues posed by the MoF regarding:
    the re-classification of solar panels as electrical motors (the current classification is photosensitive semiconductor devices), imposing additional duties and cesses on importers
  3. An inter-ministerial committee headed by the MNRE must be constituted to coordinate moves among the MoF, the MoCI, the Ministry of Power, and the Central and State Electricity Regulatory Commissions

FOURTH: Need of a unified representative

  1. Developers and manufacturers need to voice their needs clearly and respond to policy implications in an unequivocal manner
  2. The industry needs one unified voice representing the key concerns of each stakeholder-category, without ignoring the broader interests of the sector

The way forward

  1. To get ahead in the solar race, India will need a comprehensive strategy on issues such as effective sourcing of critical minerals, investment in R&D, access to patient venture capital, and fiscal benefits for the industries of the future
Mar, 17, 2018

India to take criminal action against errant solar power developers


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy & their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Domestic content requirement, solar rooftop scheme, RFID, Indian Penal Code

Mains level: Solar power target of India and related issues


Solar power developers using foreign equipment to be penalized

  1. India will penalize solar power developers who are using foreign equipment in power generation projects
  2. These projects were awarded on the basis that they would only use locally-made solar cells and modules

Possible actions

  1. Filing of a criminal case under 420 and related sections of the Indian Penal Code
  2. Blacklisting of the developer for 10 years
  3. Forfeiting of bank guarantee
  4. Disciplinary case against the concerned officers of the state-run firms and the state governments

Solar power program

  1. These projects were awarded under the domestic content requirement (DCR) route by state-owned firms
  2. They are required to use solar cells and panels made in India
  3. Also, under the solar rooftop scheme, the government gives subsidy on the condition that the modules should be made in India
  4. Solar cells can be imported under this scheme

Stringent norms introduced

  1. Indian government’s plans to making it mandatory for developers to publicly disclose the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag information of the panels used in solar projects
  2. It will also be incumbent on the developers to share the RFID list of rejected panels
  3. The government also introduced stringent quality norms in August for solar equipment to be sold in the country and made the destruction of sub-standard equipment mandatory
Mar, 15, 2018

[op-ed snap] Here comes the Sun


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance (ISA), Delhi Agenda

Mains level: Prospects for International Solar Alliance


International Solar Alliance & environmental diplomacy

  1. The Delhi Agenda, which kicked off the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on March 11, is a refreshing change in global environmental diplomacy
  2. The agenda’s 62 signatories agreed to increase the share of solar energy in their respective energy mix and the alliance plans to generate 1 TW of solar energy by 2030
  3. This is more than three times the current installed solar capacity, globally
  4. The coalition will facilitate “joint research and development efforts” to reduce the cost of solar projects in member nations

Challenges faced by ISA

  1. Many of the countries have poor technological capabilities that could come in the way of their leveraging the platform
  2. Even India, the club’s founder, has struggled to be competitive in manufacturing solar equipment like photovoltaics
  3. The country also requires technology to store solar energy when the sun is not shining
  4. Many of its energy-deficient African members want the club to become a facilitator of their electrification programmes
  5. For electricity-sufficient countries like Mauritius, membership of the alliance comes with an aspiration to transit to clean energy
  6. Mobilising finances will be another challenge as the alliance aims to pump in a trillion dollars into solar energy initiatives by 2030

Way forward

  1. Balancing the needs and the vastly different capacities of its members would require the ISA to develop robust procedures
  2. The alliance should also make sure that it does not become the means to advance the climate change mitigation goals of a few of its members or is reduced to an avenue of bilateral exchanges
  3. Developed countries like Australia and France partnering emerging economies like India and Brazil and small island nations like Fiji, Seychelles and Mauritius could be a potential game-changer for the renewable energy market
Mar, 12, 2018

[op-ed snap] India must lead the transition to green energy

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ISA

Mains level: Importance of the ISA and related issues discussed in the article.


Why is International Solar Alliance (ISA) important for India?

  1. It is a a breakthrough in India’s global positioning
  2. With this ,India has suddenly became a catalyst in the global attempts at capping climate change
  3. This is important in a geopolitical sense when China is clearly expanding its global footprint

India’s commitment on solar energy

  1. India has a domestic commitment to generate 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy by 2022
    (part of the broader 175GW target for renewable energy)

But what is the main issue?

  1. India has to push towards mass prosperity at a time when climate change is a huge concern
  2. The context of what India will have to do in the next three decades is quite different from what developed countries or Asian success stories such as China faced
  3. Fighting climate change cannot come at the cost of halting the urgent fight against poverty
  4. Global initiatives should always be seen through the lens of national interest
  5. That is why an international alliance based on credible commitments is important
  6. The key issues that India raised at the Copenhagen climate change talks is still important
  7. The rich countries still need to be pushed to provide asymmetrical funding for climate change mitigation and technology transfers
  8. That will continue to be an important challenge for the global solar alliance

Solar Energy: An opportunity

  1. The shift to solar energy should not be seen only as a defence mechanism
  2. It can also be an opportunity
  3. Economic historians have identified five long waves of technology since the Industrial Revolution
  4. The chronological order of these technology waves is as follows—the steam engine and cotton ginning; steel and railways; electrical and chemical engineering; automobiles and plastics; and information technology
  5. The fight against climate change(and the broader move to low-carbon economies) is likely to create the next big technological wave

The way forward

  1. New technology will be the critical factor in the transition to a green economy which also grows rapidly, and India should take a shot at global leadership
  2. Coal will continue to be a key part of the Indian energy mix in the immediate future
  3. But the push for solar energy is welcome if a longer view is taken
  4. ISA thus offers many opportunities —from geopolitical advantages to economic benefits in the next wave of global innovation


International Solar Alliance

Mar, 10, 2018

International Solar Alliance drops limits on membership


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance,  Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn

Mains level: India’s renewable energy commitments and efforts in that direction


No restrictions on membership in ISA

  1. India, a founding member of the International Solar Alliance said that membership of the body will be thrown open to all countries that want to join the grouping
  2. There will be no restrictions on duration of sunlight or geographical location
  3. PM Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron will be formally launching the International Solar Alliance on 11th March

Previous criteria for membership

  1. When the International Solar Alliance was announced in 2015, 121 nations situated between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn and receiving 300 days of sunlight were deemed eligible for membership


International Solar Alliance

  1. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
  2. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  3. The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization
  4. The alliance is also called International Agency for Solar Policy and Application (IASPA)
  5. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is to be headquartered in India
  6. The initiative was launched by PM Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015
Mar, 08, 2018

[op-ed snap] Rooftop energy

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: B2B

Mains level: The recent survey done in Bengaluru and why it is important for solar power sector in India.


 Mapping of rooftop solar power potential(done in Bengaluru recently)

  1. Bengaluru’s aerial mission to produce a three dimensional map of rooftop solar power potential using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data can give this key source of power a big boost
  2. The mission was done to assess how much of a city’s power needs can be met through rooftop solar installations

Importance of these surveys

  1.  A survey helps determine usable rooftops, separating them from green spaces, and analyses the quality of the solar resource
  2. With steady urbanisation, solar maps of this kind will help electricity utilities come up with good business cases and investment vehicles and give residents an opportunity to become partners in the effort

These surveys are need of the hour

  1. An initiative(like these surveys) to rapidly scale up rooftop solar installations is needed if the target of creating 40 GW of capacity connected to the grid by 2022 is to be realised

Other important issues

  1. Domestic policy has to evaluate the impact of factors such as imposition of safeguard duty and anti-dumping duty on imports, and levy of the goods and services tax on photovoltaic modules
  2. Major solar projects that connect to the grid often face the challenge of land acquisition and transmission connectivity
  3. This has led to a delay in planned capacity coming on stream during 2017

What should be done?

  1. The Centre should come up with incentives, given the enormous investment potential waiting to be tapped and the real estate that can be rented
  2. The southern States and Rajasthan together host the bulk of national solar infrastructure on a large scale
  3. With some forward-looking policymaking, they can continue to lead by adding rooftop capacity

The way forward

  1. Initiatives such as the Bengaluru mapping project can contribute to assessments of both real potential and risk
  2. This is crucial for (solar power)projects on a large scale involving significant exposure for financial institutions, including banks
  3. With ongoing improvements to solar cell efficiency and battery technology, rooftops will only get more attractive in the future


What is LIDAR?

Feb, 03, 2018

Centre’s plan may boost farmers’ solar power use


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the KUSUM

Mains level: Possible benefits and outcomes of the scheme discussed in the newscard.


Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan(KUSUM) scheme

  1. The Centre has announced a Rs. 1.4 lakh-crore scheme for promoting decentralised solar power production of up to 28,250 MW to help farmers
  2. The Centre will spend Rs. 48,000 crore on the ten-year scheme
  3. The scheme was announced in the Union Budget 2018-19

Other benefits of the scheme

  1. The scheme would provide extra income to farmers, by giving them an option to sell additional power to the grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands
  2. It would help in de-dieselising the sector as also the DISCOMS

Possible positive outcomes

  1. The positive outcomes that are expected when the scheme is fully implemented across the country include (1) promotion of decentralised solar power production,
    (2) reduction of transmission losses and
    (3  providing support to the financial health of DISCOMs by reducing the subsidy burden to the agriculture sector
  2. The scheme would also promote energy efficiency and water conservation and provide water security to farmers

Burden of subsidy

  1. The 60% subsidy on the solar pumps provided to farmers will be shared between the Centre and the States while 30% would be provided through bank loans
  2. The balance cost has to be borne by the farmers
Jan, 19, 2018

[op-ed snap] Towards solar-powered agriculture

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Interest subsidy

Mains level: Irrigation is an important issue of the Agricultural economy. The newscard discusses its solution in the form of solar pumps


Efforts done by different state governments

  1. Maharashtra is solarising its agricultural feeders by installing solar power plants at the substation level, through competitive bidding
  2. Karnataka is promoting solar pumps for existing grid-connected farmers under a net-metering regime
  3. This regime allows them to generate additional income by feeding back surplus energy into the grid
    Are we heading towards in the right direction?
  4. Despite the diversity of approaches and significant government subsidies, only about 1,42,000 pumps have been deployed till date against a target of one million pumps by 2021

How solar pumps can help?

  1. In India, 53% of the net-sown area is still rain-fed
  2. Solar pumps hold potential to enhance irrigation access, advance low-carbon agriculture, reduce the burden of rising electricity subsidies, and improve the resilience of farmers against a changing climate

What can be done?

  1. Target marginal farmers with smaller solar pumps, particularly in areas with good groundwater development potential
  2. Couple solar pump deployment with micro-irrigation and water harvesting interventions at the farm and community levels
    (due to limited water availability in some areas)
  3. In regions with already good penetration of electric pumps, prefer feeder solarisation through competitive bidding over solarisation of individual pumps
    (as solarising individual grid-connected pumps is the costliest approach for the government to expand irrigation cover)
  4. In regions with prevailing local water markets, promote community-owned solar pumps
    (for competitive prices)
  5. Encourage sharing of solar pumps among farmers through farmer extension programmes
  6. Provide interest-subsidy to farmers combined with reduced capital subsidy to enable large-scale deployment of solar pumps in a shorter span of time
    (for covering great number of farmers)
    What is interest subsidy: The value of the tax deductions of an individual’s or company’s earnings resulting from interest payments on its debt over the course of a year.

The way forward

  1. The government should continuously improve and innovate its support mechanisms on solar for irrigation
  2. India must exploit the potential of this decentralised technology to achieve the dual national targets of 100 GW of solar and doubling farmers income by 2022
Dec, 11, 2017

[pib] ISA to become a Treaty-based International Intergovernmental organization


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance

Mains level: Various initiatives taken to increase usage of renewable energy


  • In terms of its Framework Agreement, with ratification by Guinea as the 15th country on 6th November 2017, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organization
  • The ISA, headquartered in India, has its Secretariat located in the campus of National Institute of Solar Energy, Gwalpahari, Gurgaon, Haryana
  • The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi and the President of France on 30th November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN Climate Conference
  • Initially, 46 countries have signed and 19 countries have ratified the Framework Agreement of ISA.


  • Addressing obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn

At the Beginning:

  • Three programmes – Scaling Solar Applications for Agriculture Use, Affordable Finance at Scale, and Scaling Solar Mini-grids – have been launched
  • These programmes will help in achieving the overall goal of increasing solar energy deployment in the ISA member countries for achieving universal energy access and speeding up economic development
  • In addition to the existing 3 programmes, ISA has initiated plans to launch two more programmes: Scaling Solar Rooftops and Scaling Solar E-mobility and Storage


  • ISA has also been developing a Common Risk Mitigating Mechanism (CRMM) for de-risking and reducing the financial cost of solar projects in the ISA member countries
  • The instrument will help diversify and pool risks on mutual public resources and unlock significant investments.

Another major initiative:

  • Establishment of Digital Infopedia which will serve as a platform to enable policy makers, Ministers and corporate leaders from ISA countries to interact, connect, communicate and collaborate with one another
Dec, 07, 2017

Solar Alliance comes into existence

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ISA

Mains level: India’s contribution to the ISA


International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  1. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) came into legal, independent existence
  2. It is India’s global initiative that aims at increasing solar energy deployment in member countries
  3. How it is different: It is the first treaty-based international intergovernmental organisation to be based out of India

Particular of the Alliance and India’s contribution to it

  1. So far, 19 countries are part of the compact — Bangladesh, Comoros, Fiji, France, Ghana, Guinea, India, Mali, Mauritius, Nauru, Niger, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tuvalu, Australia, Cuba, Malawi and Peru
  2. The ISA, also sees itself as on a mission to mobilise more than $1000 billion in investments needed by 2030 for “massive deployment” of solar energy
  3. As part of the agreement, India will contribute $27 million (Rs. 175.5 crore approx) to the ISA for creating corpus, building infrastructure and recurring expenditure over five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21
  4. In addition, public sector undertakings of the Government of India, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), have made a contribution of $1 million (Rs. 6.5 crore) each for creating the ISA corpus fund
Nov, 16, 2017

Govt planning ‘rent a roof’ policy in solar power push


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Important policy for achieving future clean energy targets of India


“Rent a roof” policy

  1. The Union government is working on a “rent a roof” policy to support its ambitious plan to generate 40 gigawatts (GW) of power from solar rooftop projects by 2022

Why is this policy important?

  1. While investors have been enthused by India’s large ground-mounted, grid-connected solar parks, the solar rooftop market hasn’t gained much traction
  2. Of India’s ambitious target of 175GW of clean energy capacity by 2022, 100GW is to come from solar projects
  3. Of these, while 60GW is targeted from ground-mounted, grid-connected projects, 40GW is to come from solar rooftop projects. Wind power projects are to contribute 60GW

Suitability of India for such kind of projects

  1. The country offers a big opportunity given its 750GW potential as it records around 300 sunny days a year, with an average solar radiation range of 4-7 kilowatt-hours per square metre.

Concerns related to Solar Power Projects in India

  1. According to some experts,  there are concerns as India is not expected to achieve even half of the solar rooftop targets by December 2021

Government Strategy for Wind power Projects

  1. The central government is also firming up its strategy to expedite bidding out wind power contracts
  2. India has an installed wind power capacity of 33GW
  3. The country has auctioned 2GW of wind power contracts that saw tariffs fall to a record low of Rs2.64 per unit in the October auction conducted by state-run Solar Energy Corp. of India
Nov, 15, 2017

Solar Alliance to set up 1000 GW of solar energy by 2030

Image source


Mains Paper 3 | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Conference of Parties (COP)- 23, Paris Agreement, International Solar Alliance, Doha Amendments, Kyoto Protocol, GEF, GCF, BASIC group of countries

Mains level: This news card talks about the new target of ISA and also highlights some other agreements that were negotiated at COP-23 which is being held at Bonn


  1. Three years ago, India had surprised many by announcing that it would develop 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy by the year 2022, scaling up its then-existing target by almost five times
  2. Now, the International Solar Alliance, a, has set its eyes on installing 1000 GW of solar energy by the year 2030

International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  1. A new intergovernmental body set up at India’s behest at the Paris climate change conference in 2015
  2. ISA has just been ratified by enough number of countries to make it operational
  3. It will become operational by December 6 this year
  4. France is a key partner in the ISA which is open for membership to 121 countries lying in the tropical regions
  5. So far, 44 countries have signed on to the alliance while 16 of them have also ratified it

The New target of ISA

  1. Last year at the launch of ISA in Gurgaon it aimed to install 1000 GW of solar energy but also stated that this goal required an investment of about 1200 billion euros.
  2. This will be one of the biggest global efforts to shift away from fossil fuels and move towards cleaner sources of energy

Other Agreements discussed in the conference

  1. An agreement on climate resilient agriculture to reduce non-CO2 emissions from it was signed
  2. There was a similar agreement on the issue of loss and damages but many of the demands of the developing countries, especially small island nations, were not accommodated
  3. The small island countries, most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, have been asking for a loss and damage mechanism through which they can seek financial help to compensate for the destruction caused by climate change-induced extreme weather events

Discussions over Pre-2020 actions

  1. Pre-2020 actions’ refer mainly to the obligations of the developed countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that has still three years to run.
  2. There was a fresh proposal to resolve the deadlock over the issue of pre-2020 actions.
  3. Though it still did not address-
  • The developing countries’ key demands of inclusion of pre-2020 actions in the official agenda of negotiations and;
  • Setting up of a timeline for the developed countries to ratify the Doha amendments of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Meeting by BASIC

  1. India, China, Brazil and South Africa together are known as the BASIC group
  2. They held a meeting to review the progress made at the conference so far
  3. In a joint statement, they noted that developing countries had made much more efforts in tackling climate change than they were expected to
  4. BASIC countries’ actions represented far more ambitious efforts compared to their respective responsibilities and capabilities
  5. It also expressed its deepest concern over attempts by the developed countries to exclude some developing nations from accessing climate finance by applying new income criteria
  6. There have been suggestions that middle-income developing countries should not be eligible for accessing funds from Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF), two existing financial institutions for climate finance
  7. The BASIC countries said such criteria were not compatible with the existing agreements and were tantamount to renegotiating the Paris Agreement


Global Environment Facility (GEF)

  1. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems
  2. It is a  unique partnership of 18 agencies including United Nations agencies, multilateral development banks, national entities and international NGOs
  3. It is working with 183 countries to address the world’s most challenging environmental issues
  4. It acts as a financial mechanism for 5 major international environmental conventions:
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
  • United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD),
  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs),
  • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD),
  • Minamata Convention on Mercury
  1. The slogan of GEF is- Investing in Our Planet

Green Climate Facility (GCF)

  1. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was adopted as a financial mechanism of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the end of 2011 in COP16 which was held at Cancun, Mexico
  2. It is intended to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country for combating climate change
  3. Its finances activities to both enable and support adaptation, mitigation (including REDD+), technology development and transfer (including CCS), capacity-building and the preparation of national reports
  4. The World Bank serves as the interim trustee of the GCF, and the fund functions under the guidance of and remain accountable to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties
  5. It is based in South Korea and governed by a Board of 24 members and initially supported by a Secretariat.
  6. NABARD has been accredited by Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board as one of the National Implementing Entity (NIE) for GCF in India


  1. It is a bloc of four large newly industrialized countries– BrazilSouth AfricaIndia, and China, formed by an agreement in 2009
  2. This geopolitical alliance, initiated and led by China, then brokered the final Copenhagen Accord with the United States
  3. It demands that developed countries allow developing countries “equitable space for development” as well as providing them with finance, technology, and capacity-building support, based on their “historical responsibility for climate change”
Aug, 28, 2017

New norms for solar power bids to enhance transparency: MNRE

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Mains Paper 3:Economy ] Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Not much

Mains level: New guidelines for procuring solar power



  1. The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) had issued the new guidelines for tariff based competitive bidding process for procuring solar power
  2. The guidelines have been issued under the provisions of Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003 for long term procurement from grid-connected Solar PV Power Projects of 5 MW and above, through competitive bidding.


Salient features

  1. Generation compensation for offtake constraints for reducing offtake risks
  2. The ‘must-run’ status for solar projects has been stressed upon.
  3. Besides, to ensure lower tariffs, minimum PPA (power purchase agreement) tenure has been kept at 25 years. Moreover unilateral termination or amendment of PPA is not allowed.
  4. Provides for termination compensation to increase bankability of projects by securing the investment by the generator and the lenders against any arbitrary termination of PPA.
  5. The risk of generator’s revenue getting blocked due to delayed payment/non-payment by the procurers has been addressed through provision of Payment Security Mechanism through instruments like Letter of Credit (LC), Payment Security Fund and State Guarantee. 
  6. It also provides for change in law provision to provide clarity and certainty to generators, procurers, and investors/lenders. 
  7. The penalties have been rationalised so as to reduce the overall cost to the generator, while at the same time, ensuring compliance with the Commissioning Schedule/Scheme Guidelines.
  8. The norms provide that generators are free to repower their plants.


  1. New Guidelines for Tariff Based Competitive Bidding Process to reduce risk, enhance transparency and increase affordability of Solar Power
  2. It will also provide standardisation and uniformity in processes and a risk-sharing framework between various stakeholders involved in the solar PV power procurement
  3. This will also help reduce off-taker risk and encourage investments, enhance bankability of the Projects and improve profitability for the investors
  4. The guidelines also streamline the provision for project preparedness to expedite and facilitate the setting up of projects.
Nov, 19, 2016

India's solar power capacity crosses 10,000 MW II

  1. State capacity: Tamil Nadu has the highest installed capacity, followed by Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat
  2. The report pointed out that the solar park scheme has also been instrumental in tackling the two major issues of land acquisition and power evacuation for project development
  3. The govt originally envisaged developing 20,000 MW of solar park capacity by 2020
  4. But the scheme has received an enthusiastic response from the private sector and the govt is already planning to double this capacity to 40,000 MW
  5. Further, 8 green energy corridors are under construction, with financial assistance from German development bank KFW
  6. These will evacuate and integrate the growing share of renewable energy into the grid
  7. The corridors will allow transmission of solar power from the solar rich states to other states
Nov, 19, 2016

India's solar power capacity crosses 10,000 MW I

  1. Source: A report by Bridge to India, a global solar energy consulting firm
  2. Major milestone: Cumulative solar capacity, including rooftop and off-grid segments, has crossed 10,000 MW in the country
  3. Reasons: Because of strong government support and the increasing price competitiveness of solar power
  4. India is expected to become the world’s third biggest solar market next year, after China and the US
  5. An average annual capacity addition of 8-10 GW per annum is expected from next year
  6. Utility-scale solar accounts for more than 85% of the total installed capacity. Rooftop solar, is about 10% of the sector
  7. Improving net metering implementation and subsidy disbursal are expected to lead to a significant demand boost for rooftop solar across consumer segments
Sep, 22, 2016

World’s largest solar plant in Tamil Nadu

  1. The Adani Group opened the world’s largest single location solar power plant in Tamil Nadu
  2. It will produce 648MW of electricity
  3. The plant is at Kamuthi in Ramanathapuram district
  4. Has been connected to a 400 kilo volts substation of Tamil Nadu Transmission Corp.
  5. Built at a cost of around Rs.4,550 crore
  6. Significance: A plant of this magnitude reinstates the country’s ambitions of becoming one of the leading green energy producers in the world

Discuss: Remember National Solar Mission? A good time to go back and revise now!

Jun, 14, 2016

ABB links TN solar project to national grid

  1. Context: ABB, a Swedish-Swiss MNC has commissioned five substations to integrate a 648-megawatt (MW) solar project in Tamil Nadu to the national transmission grid
  2. Largest: The solar photovoltaic project, made up of five plants in a single location, is the largest of its kind in the world
  3. At full capacity this facility will account for nearly 10 per cent of the country’s current solar capacity of around 7 GW
Jun, 06, 2016

Govt. lines up $2.5 bn to boost rooftop solar units

  1. Context: Govt’s target of installing 40 GW grid-connected solar rooftop systems
  2. Loans extended by World Bank, Asian Development Bank and New Development Bank
  3. A national workshop on Roof Top Solar Power is to be organised in this week
Mar, 05, 2016

Policy on Solar Capacity Panels in Indian Railways

  1. Context: India’s ambitious agenda to source 40,000 MW of rooftop solar power by 2022
  2. News: Indian Railways have finalized a policy for harnessing solar energy on rooftops of railway premises
  3. The policy provides for setting up solar power plants through developer mode with a long term Power Purchase Agreement by Railways
  4. Objective: To reduce dependence on fossil fuels and expand solar power

Read about Railway Budget 2016-17.

Mar, 02, 2016

Budget's impact on Solar Energy

  1. Outlay: Govt has allocated an outlay of above Rs.10,000 crore for 2016-17
  2. This includes Rs.5,000 crore from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) & remaining from Internal & Extra Budgetary Resource (IEBR)
  3. Finance: A significant part of viability gap funding for solar power projects
  4. Diversification of sources of power for long-term stability
  5. Taxation: Clean environment cess on coal, lignite and peat has been doubled from Rs.200 to Rs.400 per tonne
  6. This would encourage the use of renewable sources of energy
Feb, 20, 2016

Low solar tariffs susceptible to cost risks

  1. Context: Solar tariff hit a historic low of Rs 4.34/unit in January after a bid for a 70 MW project in Rajasthan
  2. Expert’s Opinion: Low tariff bids could prove risky for developers as any slight changes in costs could impact operating margins
  3. Reason: Low tariff bids have very tight assumptions of costs, which can escalate if any of the assumptions go wrong
  4. Challenge: Rooftop solar has been viable only for industrial consumers whose power tariffs are on the higher side, while residential users have low tariffs
  5. Discoms don’t favour rooftop solar power, as industrial consumers are buying less from them, due to difference in pricing
Feb, 17, 2016

Easy land acquisition for solar parks

  1. Context: the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has come out with fresh guidelines for land acquisition for solar parks
  2. Aim: To tackle the problems of acquiring land for solar park projects and keeping costs down
  3. Norms: allow state governments to use unproductive and non-agricultural land for the purpose, and emphasize minimum use of private land
Jan, 27, 2016

PM Modi inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the International Solar Alliance

PM inaugurated International Solar Alliance (ISA) headquarters and inaugurated the interim Secretariat in National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Gwalpahari, Gurgaon.

  1. GoI has dedicated 5 acre land in NISE campus for the ISA Headquarters and also has contributed Rs 175 crore for ISA corpus fund for initial 5 years.
  2. ISA is part of Prime Minister’s vision to bring clean and affordable energy within the reach of all and create a sustainable world.
  3. ISA will be dedicated to promotion of solar energy for making solar energy a valuable source of affordable and reliable green and clean energy in 121 member countries.
  4. Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) announced contribution of US $ 1 million each to the ISA corpus fund.
Jan, 22, 2016

International Solar Alliance set to be operational in 6 months

  1. An International Solar Alliance (ISA) is likely to be operational by the middle of 2016.
  2. Mr. Modi and François Hollande would lay the foundation stone of the alliance at the National Institute of Solar Energy in Gurgaon.
  3. One of the objectives of the alliance is to get $1 trillion investments in the solar sector worldwide by 2030.
  4. This will be the first time that India will have the headquarters of an international agency.
  5. The International Solar Alliance will become a legal entity after a minimum 25 countries ratify it.
Jan, 21, 2016

Power for 2.5 million homes, jobs for 30,000

  1. The Union Cabinet approved Rs. 5,050 crore of viability gap funding for 5,000 MW of grid-connected solar projects.
  2. The additional 5,000 MW of power could provide power to almost 2.5 million households.
  3. This would be done over 4 years from 2015-16 to 2018-19 and generate employment for around 30,000 people in rural and urban areas.
  4. It will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the country by 8.525 million tonnes a year.
Jan, 19, 2016

Increase in renewable energy use to boost global GDP by $1.3 trillion

  1. The International Renewable Energy Agency provided the first global estimate of the macroeconomic impacts of renewable energy deployment.
  2. The report highlights the benefits that would be achieved under the scenario of doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030 from 2010 levels.
  3. A 36% share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 would increase global GDP by up to $1.3 trillion.
  4. Employment in the renewable energy sector would also increase from 9.2 mn global jobs today, to more than 24 mn by 2030.
Dec, 31, 2015

Green light for Rs. 5,000 crore sop for rooftop solar power

There will be no subsidy for commercial establishments in the private sector.

  1. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved an increase in the budget for implementation of grid-connected solar rooftop systems to Rs.5,000 crore to 2019-2020.
  2. This will support installation of 4,200 MW solar rooftop systems in the country in next 5 years.
  3. The capital subsidy of 30 per cent will be provided for general category States and Union Territories and 70 per cent for special category States.
  4. This will enable the balance capacity through market mode to achieve the target of 40,000 MWp by 2022.
  5. The government has revised the target of National Solar Mission (NSM) from 20,000 MWp to 1 lakh MWp by 2022.
Dec, 08, 2015

Encouragement to Domestic Households for Installation of Solar Panels

The Govt. has taken few measures to encourage domestic households for solar power in the country.

  1. Concessional loans from Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency.
  2. Loans under Priority Sector Lending upto Rs. 15 crore for renewable energy.
  3. Bank loans as a part of home loan/ home improvement loan for rooftop solar systems projects.
  4. Subsidy for grid connected rooftop solar systems, solar pumping systems, concentrated solar thermal and other off-grid solar applications.
Dec, 07, 2015

Increasing Production of Solar Energy

The govt. has taken several initiatives to promote Solar Power in the country.

  1. A 10-year tax holiday for Solar Power Projects.
  2. Exemption from excise duties and concession on import duties on components and equipment required to set up a solar plant
  3. A subsidy of 30% of the project cost for off-grid solar thermal projects.
  4. Guaranteed market through solar power purchase obligation to states.
Dec, 01, 2015

Modi launches International Solar Alliance

  1. India launched an International Solar Alliance (ISA) at the CoP21 Climate Conference.
  2. The revolution in the field would bring power to all citizens, and create unlimited economic opportunity.
  3. The new body has invited all countries located fully or partly between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to join.
  4. India will provide land and $30 million to form a secretariat for the Alliance, and also support it for 5 years.
  5. It will promote solar technologies and investment in the solar sector to enhance
    income generation for the poor and global environment.
Oct, 03, 2015

Over 4GW of solar power stream by end of fiscal

Presently Rajasthan leads in solar power capacity addition, followed by Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra

  1. The country is set to add more than 4 GW of solar power by March 2016, the largest annual addition of capacity in the solar sector.
  2. From 4,345 MW of new capacity, 3,775 MW of capacity will be added under the state government’s policies category.
  3. India added a cumulative grid-connected solar capacity of 4,262 MW.
  4. About 330 MW will be added through the viability gap funding scheme (phase II and Batch I of National Solar Mission).
Aug, 05, 2015

Metro installs 9 Solar Power generation facilities

  1. Delhi Metro has installed nine new solar power generation facilities in Badarpur-Faridabad section for partial fulfilment of energy requirements.
  2. These power facilities have capacity of 1,660 kWp while total solar capacity installed as of now is 2,800 kWp.
  3. DMRC has a plan of creating solar power capacity of 20MWp out of which work has already been awarded for 11MWp.
Jul, 20, 2015

Can the ‘National Solar Mission’ & ‘Make in India’ converge?

  1. The 100 GW solar target will result in much (~25%) of our power supply being ‘Made in India’ besides generating more than a million new jobs.
  2. Power purchase agreements for solar power are signed for 25 years, with no provision for tariff revision disproving the claims that solar power is expensive.
  3. Moreover, MSMEs, worst hit by power shortages, can meet a portion of their demand through in-house rooftop solar power.
Jul, 07, 2015

Govt sets rooftop solar targets for States

  1. The Centre has recently set State-wise tentative targets for installation of grid-connected solar rooftop systems.
  2. Part of its plan is to achieve 40,000 MW of rooftop solar power by 2022.
Jun, 18, 2015

Solar Power capacity target revised to 1 lakh MW under JNNSM by 2022

  1. JNNSM – Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.
  2. How? 40,000 MW from Rooftop and 60,000 MW through Large and Medium Scale Grid Connected Solar Power Projects.
  3. Also approved setting up of over 2,000 MW of Grid-Connected Solar Power Projects on BOOT (build, own, operate, transfer) basis.
Apr, 16, 2015

Solar power picks up steam in more States

  1. Gujarat & Rajasthan are the frontrunners – account for >50% India’s grid connected solar energy capacity additions.
  2. The Indian government has set an ambitious target of adding 100,000 MW by 2022.
  3. The plan would include large scale deployment of rooftop projects under both net metering and feed in metering.
  4. Secondly, the Government would lay emphasis on grid connected projects to achieve 40,000 MW by 2022. Solar parks have to be set up in.
  5. Thirdly, the Centre should focus on large scale projects (100 MW minimum).
Apr, 08, 2015

Solar energy production advantages & the future of climate control

  1. Solar energy leaves the least pollution behind, only silicon wafer production is polluting step.
  2. In Hydro and Wind energy production there is huge green economy cost.
  3. Higher efficiency solar panel as invented recently is one reason that per Unit production is coming down.
  4. New zero white space (ZWS) solar module technology – increases efficiency.
  5. PV (Photo Voltaic) costs have gone down in recent times which is the major part for investment.
Mar, 31, 2015

China plans to build huge space solar power station

  1. The power station would be a super spacecraft on a geosynchronous orbit equipped with huge solar panels.
  2. This is an attempt to battle smog, cut greenhouse gases & solve energy crisis.
  3. Electricity generated from the ground-based solar plants fluctuates with time of the day, but a space generator collects energy 99% of the time.
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