India’s installed utility power has been steadily growing over years and it stood at ~378 GW as on 31st Jan 2021. Unfortunately, coal still accounts for more than half of this power (54.7%).
And fortunately, renewable power (especially solar) has been rapidly growing. From 0.16GW in 2010, installed solar power has crossed 38 GW in Jan 2021. Solar has crossed wind power to be the largest renewable power source in India. There is a more potential for growth of solar power in India. India is blessed with lots of sunshine i.e. 4-7 kWh per sq. m per day.
The cost of solar PV power in India, China, Brazil and 55 other emerging markets fell to about one-third of its 2010 price, making solar the cheapest form of renewable energy and cheaper than power generated from fossil fuels such as coal and gas. This is the main reason for rapid growth of solar power in India.
In 2020, India commissioned the Bhadla Solar Park (2245 MW) which is World’s biggest solar park. And, the speed with which India is developing this green power, it will not be long before the Bhadla Solar Park will be replaced by another name. Solar power has not reached even fraction of its potential in India. Even after this growth, solar still accounts for only 10% of India’s power needs. This is very small compared to its potential. For example, the solar energy available in a single year exceeds the possible energy output of all of the fossil fuel energy reserves (coal, gas etc.) in India!!!
What can cause solar to become a major power source in India?
Mainly two factors:
- Tariffs: Many manufacturers have started/enhanced solar panels and other components production in India. Larger and more such manufacturing plants can bring down the cost due to economy of scale.
- Energy-storage: Solar power generation (like wind) is not constant i.e. power generation only during the day and not at night. Hence, to become major power source (like coal today), these power sources need economical energy storage solutions. R&D in energy-storage has started in a huge way. An economical and compact storage solution will help in solar becoming the main source of power in India.
*Data Source: MNRE, Wikipedia & IRENA