India is a leading solar power country and has a clear commitment to renewable energy. It is a front-runner in the global fight against climate change.
Policy mechanisms are considered to be important in driving industry innovation, especially for wind and solar power technologies. Policies are often grouped into a technology-push and demand-pull framework.
Photovoltaic cells are the main source of solar energy. They convert sunlight directly into electricity and are a key contributor to the world’s energy needs, particularly in developing countries.
Research in the field of photovoltaics is focused on increasing efficiency, making panels durable and reliable and improving the grid’s ability to manage and integrate renewables. This work is necessary for ensuring that PV systems can continue to provide clean, affordable power to homes and businesses over the long term.
The technology also requires smarter inverters to inject power into the grid and manage generation from solar PV plants, while at the same time reducing the overall balance-of-system cost of a solar plant. This is a critical challenge for utilities and government regulators who want to ensure that new solar deployment does not destabilize their careful balancing act between electricity supply and demand.
Another promising technology is thin-film solar cells that are made from several materials, including cadmium-telluride, amorphous silicon, copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) and gallium-arsenide (GaAs). They can be manufactured at lower costs than traditional silicon-based PV, are more flexible, and are easier to install.
In the last few years, solar power has moved from utility-scale installations to smaller projects that make better use of space and are more likely to be built on land, such as canals. The Indian government is encouraging the development of small, low-cost canal-top power plants and has supported pilot projects 750m long in Gujarat.
Other innovations are aimed at creating more energy-efficient buildings and appliances, such as the new generation of solar-powered LED lighting. These developments will help to lower the cost of energy and reduce CO2 emissions.
The rising need for energy in the developing world has created a number of opportunities for the solar industry to grow. A growing population in the developing world means that the number of people using energy will increase at a faster rate than in developed countries, and this will drive the solar power market.
Moreover, the growing importance of electricity storage as a way to manage and deliver energy on demand will be a major factor in the future growth of the solar power market. Batteries will become a key component of the grid, allowing grid operators to integrate more renewable generation. They can also be used to increase the stability and resilience of the grid, which is especially important in some parts of the world where high levels of renewables are limited by the capacity of existing distribution networks.
India is one of the most ambitious solar power nations in the world, with its National Electricity Plan calling for a 24% jump in production by 2027. To achieve this, the Indian government is reshoring manufacturing to India, subsidizing solar companies’ investments and waiving transmission charges for renewable energy.
However, India has a few challenges in bringing solar to the masses, including its limited availability of cells. As a result, many manufacturers have been forced to import cells and panels from China and other countries, which is causing an uptick in the cost of these products in India. In April, the government introduced protective duties on imported components of solar energy systems.
Those tariffs can eat into profits, especially for smaller businesses. The government says it wants to encourage homegrown cell and module producers to reduce reliance on imports, but those firms say the new tax burdens have thwarted their growth plans.
The extra costs have also prevented some manufacturers from relocating to the country. That’s a significant barrier, according to industry experts.
Other problems include a poor infrastructure that makes it difficult to install large-scale systems and financing rates that discourage investors. Additionally, the process of acquiring land for a project can be long and complex.
Even with these obstacles, however, Indian manufacturers have shown impressive progress in the solar sector. In 2018 alone, the nation’s investment in solar reached more than double that of all fossil fuel sources together.
As a result, Indian manufacturers have become competitive in the global market, but there is still much to be done. Some industry analysts argue that the country needs to invest more in capacity expansion and research. They also believe that improving the efficiency of solar cells can make them more affordable to consumers.
The innovation of Photovoltaic cells has contributed to the development of a new generation of solar panels which are energy efficient and environmentally sustainable. These solar panels can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing electricity without harmful pollutants.
However, as with any technology that generates power from the sun, solar energy has environmental impacts. These impacts range from land use and habitat loss to water use. Some solar plants require water for cleaning the cells or concentrators, or to cool turbine generators. This water may affect the natural ecosystems in the area, including animal migration and plant habitats.
Another major issue is the waste generated when these solar cells and panels are manufactured and then disposed of. Solar cells can contain heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, which can contaminate groundwater. As the amount of solar power increases, these issues will increase.
In an effort to combat these problems, the Indian government has made it a priority to expand solar capacity and improve sustainability. It has established a national solar power policy and launched programs to support development, enabling it to achieve grid parity by 2022.
To support this mission, the government has introduced a scheme called Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) which provides a subsidy of 25 per cent to solar panel manufacturers. The incentive is meant to encourage local production and reduce the dependency on imports.
The Indian government has also launched a national rooftop solar program which provides subsidies to private consumers who install rooftop solar systems. This is an important step towards achieving the nation’s target of generating 450 GW of solar energy by 2022, and unlocking the country’s rooftop solar potential.
In the meantime, India is exploring other innovative ways to develop solar power. For example, it recently inaugurated a “canal-top” solar power plant that sits across the top of a canal in Gujarat’s Vadodara district.
One of the key advantages of building solar power plants atop canals is the efficiency of land use, since it requires less land than traditional utility-scale facilities. Moreover, the water evaporation from the canals is less than what would happen if they were located on dry land.
Experts say India’s nascent manufacturing sector may be small right now to support the country’s ambitious renewable energy targets. Its current cell and module production capacity is about 44 gigawatts per year, a fraction of the capacity needed to meet its target of 280 GW by 2030. Another barrier to scaling up solar in India is grid integration. It is difficult to transmit excess solar power from rural areas to central and inter-state transmission facilities. The Green Energy Corridor project is a major effort to strengthen both inter-state and intra-state transmission lines in India.
Despite the operational issues, the Solar Industry is making strides and is one of the most attractive renewable energy sectors in the world, according to EY’s latest Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI). Solar technology is also advancing rapidly. Innovators are pushing the limits of solar panels, inverters and batteries to improve their reliability and durability. For example, solar engineers are exploring the use of half-cell technologies to boost panel efficiency. This works by splitting solar cells into two halves with less resistance, so they are able to produce more electricity.
The technology is being applied to a number of utility scale solar power plants. A 10 MW plant built on the Narmada River canal in Madhya Pradesh and a 50 MW facility in Uttar Pradesh, for instance, are both using the half-cell method. In addition, the technology is being developed for use in remote areas. A study of solar panels on a mountain top in Tamil Nadu found that half-cell technology is more durable than the traditional single-cell modules, which are more prone to micro-cracks.