India on roll to be a solar energy super power

18 Nov. 2010 by

India’s installed power generation capacity until June 2010 stood at 162,366 MW while the per capita energy consumption stood at 612 kWh. The share of renewable energy in the mix is close to 11% as per Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). According to a survey conducted by KPMG, consumption of electricity in India, which is currently around 600 Terawatt hours per annum, is all set to double by 2020.

The Central Electricity Authority states India’s peak-hour deficit for electricity at a staggering 13.3% in the current year from 11.9% in 2008-09. Although plans for additional 241,000 MW generation is in the coming decade is on the anvil but will highly unlikely bridge the demand supply gap. According to Research Analyst at RNCOS, “India’s GDP has been growing by around 8-9% per annum for past several years, thus creating enormous demand for energy. However, the demand-availability deficit continues to be one of the major areas of concern for the power industry, which is bothering the economy’s competitiveness. Electricity theft and inefficiencies in power transmission and distribution systems are other major concerns.

In light of this, sustainable energy technologies, in particular solar energy will play vital role in overcoming this predicament. As a sunlight rich country the solar radiant energy in India’s  is equivalent to over 5,000 trillion kWh per year  and an average of 300 clear sunny days are available in most parts of the country. The daily average solar energy incident varies in the range of 4 -7 kWh per square meter depending upon the location resulting annual yield of 1,700 to 1,900 kilowatt hours per kilowatt peak (kWh/kWp) of installed PV capacity. Leh in north, Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat in west are the favorable regions with maximum yield. This vast reservoir of solar radiant energy particularly makes it perhaps the most significant choice to explore business opportunities for solar energy development in India besides the vast pool of skilled human resources which should classify it as a big business.

In order to issue the climate change issues the Government of India has put forward 8 National missions, and Solar Mission holds the centre stage. During January 2010, the Federal Government announced a National Solar Mission targeting 20 GW of grid generation, 2 GW of off-grid distributed solar systems and 20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas all to be achieved by the year 2021-22 as shown in Table 1. The 20 GW of power by 2022 will call for an overall investment of about US$70 billion stretched over 3 phases. The 20 GW grid connected projects would be equally divided between Solar PV & Solar Thermal technologies. Thus eventually Solar PV grid connected target will be 10 GW until 2022.


India’s current capability is 500 MW of module production and nearly 70% is however traded for exports. The Government of India has however mandated that only Indian made cells and modules would be sanctioned under the National Solar Mission. Thus in order to overcome the shortfall, there is adequate opportunity for the global investor to establish their base in India. Fig 2. Shows the investment that will come about phase wise under the National Solar Mission.


The report card until October 2010 suggests that for first phase investments chasing every 1,000 MW of photo-voltaic and solar-thermal power was almost four times the capacity, which is a testimony of the investor faith in solar energy business in India. By December 2011 generation will have begun work for at least half of this target. Balance will be done by December 2012 which will be ahead of schedule. From mere 6 MW until 2009 the country would have achieved a quantum jump of 4,106 MW until 2017. Fig. 1 shows the achievement of Solar PV cell and module manufacturing in India.


As per statistics provided by MNRE of September 2010, India had 619,428 home lighting systems, 813,380 lanterns and 121,227 street lighting systems and 7,495 water pumps.
With such a strong investor interest in India's solar power the National Solar Mission goal is well on its path to be achieved and the atmosphere is vibrant for global investors to mark their foot in India. Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action Champions will keep playing until they get it right.


Interested in the Indian PV market? Solarplaza will organize The Solar Future: India on 24-25 of January 2011 in New Delhi.