An Outlook of Solar Technology in India and Necessary Changes in the Roadmap

Outlook of Solar Technology in India

The solar technologies are emerging and growing sector across the globe, In India with the government initiative of JNNSM the growth of the solar market has been increased exponentially. The average utilityscale LCOE of solar PV have declined by around 50% between 2010 and 2014, and the present lowest power tariff signed by government in India is of 2.44Rs/Kwh ($0.04 USD/Kwh) and till August 2017 the solar power installed capacity reached up to 13114.85 MW. The steep decline in the cost, low power tariff and easy Engineering Procurement & Commission (EPC) makes solar photovoltaic technologies to reach this milestone possible. However if solar photovoltaic technology is growing in this pace then the saturation of the technology will crop up in early 2030’s.

Government Targets in JNNSM

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) is started by Indian government with the vision to install and harvest 20GW of power through solar technologies by 2020; later the target has been revised and expanded to 100GW to achieve within the same time period. The JNNSM has divided into three phases and in its first phase the target was set as follows.

Government Targets in JNNSM

The idea in Phase-I was to give equal emphasis to both solar photovoltaic (SPV) as well as concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies. Therefore, 500 MW each was allocated to SPV as well as CSP technologies in Phase-I. Whereas at the end of phase one because of CSP’s poor performance in JNNSM Phase-I, MNRE has decided to reduce the share of CSP to 30 per cent in Phase-II. And now no new project has been shown up in India for CSP Technologies.

CSP Technologies

The figures describe the allocation of different types of installations of solar technologies under JNNSM for achieving the targets. This clearly describes the allocations are completely designed in the view of solar photovoltaic technologies.

The Future Perspective on SPV

The markets for solar photovoltaic are currently increasing vigorously due to:

  • The advancement in technologies turns out the reduction in cost.
  • The simplicity of technology, its user friendly nature & Retrofittable in a small scale.
  • The ease of Engineering, Procurement & Commission in megawatt scale level projects and availability of solar modules. However if the growth of solar photovoltaic is in the similar pace then the saturation of the technology will crop up in early 2030’s and with the current government polices and targets it could happen even little earlier. The reason the technology will saturate is described below:
  • Expansion of solar capacity could further hindered by existing electricity infrastructure. The present Indian Grid infrastructure is not capable enough to completely accept power from a fluctuating source like Photovoltaic.
  • Efficiency of harvesting solar energy is comparatively low when compared to the Concentrating solar power (CSP).
  • Storage of energy by photovoltaic’s is way to costlier.
  • Adverse environmental impacts especially at utility scale, can also affect the biodiversity of the local environment, both within and outside of their land footprint. Landscape fragmentation can harm vulnerable vegetation, and create barriers to the movement of species.

Advantages of CSP

The foresaid drawbacks of present and future of Photovoltaic technologies, the alternative systems such as concentrated solar power should equally be prompted. The advantages of CSP over Photovoltaic’s are

  • Low LCOE of Concentrated solar power, Dubai’s state utility company, DEWA, has signed a power purchase agreement of US$0.073/kWh which is lowest power tariff proves that CSP can be affordable and can be expected to further price fall in future.
  • Thermal energy storage is a proven and promising low cost solution to store and generate electricity during non solar hours when the peak demand is high at major households.
  • Environmental friendly while manufacturing and as well as while discarding the plants after its life time.

Necessary Changes in Roadmap

In the perspective of present and future impacts of the promoting only solar photovoltaic’s technologies, and the growth of promising CSP technologies across world, the governing body should seriously consider to incorporate CSP with the equal importance by reconstructing the policies and regulations. The investors should be promoted and supported by government and a necessary linkage should be made for availing the world class technology for installing in India.

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