Solar power in India
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Solar power is developing rapidly in India, and as of 31 May 2016 the cumulative installed grid connected solar power capacity was 7565 MW and the proposed target is 100 000 MW by 2022. India is ranked number one in terms of solar electricity production per watt installed, with an insolation of 1700 to 1900 kilowatt hours per kilowatt peak (kWh/KWp). In January 2015, the Indian government significantly expanded its solar plans, targeting US$100 billion of investment and 100 GW of solar capacity (including 40 000 MW from rooftop solar) by 2022.
On 16 May 2011, India’s first 5 MW of installed capacity solar power project was registered under the Clean Development Mechanism. The project is in Sivagangai Village, Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu. Solar photovoltaics began to take-off in India in 2010 when 25.1 MW was added and again in 2011 when 468.3 MW was added. More recently growth has been over 3000 MW per year (see table below) and is set to accelerate. Government-funded solar electricity in India was approximately just 6.4 MW per year as of 2005.
- 1 Solar resources
- 2 Installations by region
- 3 List of largest photovoltaic power stations
- 4 Photovoltaic solar growth forecasts
- 5 Solar water heaters
- 6 Rural electrification
- 7 Solar refrigeration and air conditioning
- 8 Power grid stabilisation
- 9 Challenges and opportunities
- 10 Government support
- 11 Hybrid solar plants
- 12 Bulk raw materials of solar panels
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
With about 300 clear, sunny days in a year, India's theoretically calculated solar energy incidence on its land area alone is about 5000 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year (or 5 EWh/yr). The solar energy available in a year exceeds the possible energy output of all fossil fuel energy reserves in India. The daily average solar power plant generation capacity over India is 0.20 kWh per m2 of used land area, which is equivalent to about 1400–1800 peak (rated) capacity operating hours in a year with the available commercially-proven technologies.
Installations by region
|Year||Cumulative Capacity (in MW)|
|State||MW as of
|MW as of
|MW as of
|Andaman & Nicobar||5.10||5.10||5.10|
|Daman & Diu||0.00||4.00||4.00|
Rajasthan is one of India's most solar-developed states. The total photovoltaic capacity has passed 500 MW, having reached 510.25 MW by the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year. The district of Jodhpur leads with 42 projects totaling 293 MW, followed by Jaisalmer and Bikaner. The French group AREVA Solar is currently engaged in constructing a 250 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) installation, which will become the largest CSP installation in Asia. A 4000 MW Ultra Mega Green Solar Power Project (UMPP) is being built near Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan. Upon completion, it would be the world's largest solar power plant. It is expected to be built in 4 phases, with the first phase likely to be commissioned by the end of 2016 with 1000 MW capacity. The total cost of each phase of the project is estimated to be ₹70 billion (US$1.0 billion) and the entire project is expected to be completed in 7 years. The present Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put great emphasis on solar projects and is inviting FDI in this sector.
|This section is outdated. (July 2016)|
Gujarat has been a leader in solar power generation in India. The State of Gujarat has commissioned Asia’s largest solar park at Charanka village. The park is already generating 2 MW solar power out of its total planned capacity of 500 MW. The park has been functioning on a multi-developers and multi-beneficiaries paradigm and has been awarded for being the most innovative and environment-friendly project by the CII.
With a view to making Gandhinagar a solar-power city, the State government has launched a roof-top solar power generation scheme. Under this scheme, the State plans to generate 5 MW of solar power by putting solar panels on about 50 state government buildings and on 500 private buildings. The State has also a plan to emulate this project in Rajkot, Surat, Bhavnagar and Vadodara in 2012-13.
The state plans to generate solar power by putting solar panels on the Narmada canal branches. As a part of this scheme, the State has already commissioned the 1 MW Canal Solar Power Project on a branch of the Narmada Canal near the Chandrasan area of Anand taluka. This also helps by stopping 90,000 litres (24,000 US gal; 20,000 imp gal) of water/year of the Narmada river from evaporating.
Installed photovoltaic capacity in Andhra Pradesh is 793 MW as of 30 April 2016. During 2014, APTransCo has entered into agreements with IPPs to install 619 MW. NTPC also entered into agreement in 2015 with APTransCo to install a 250 MW plant (first phase of the 1000 MW ultra solar power project) at Kadiri in Anantapur district.
Sakri solar plant is the biggest solar power plant in the state with 125 MW capacity. The Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust has the world's largest solar steam system. It was constructed at the Shirdi shrine at an estimated cost of ₹1.33 crore (US$200,000), ₹58.4 lakh (US$87,000) which was paid as a subsidy by the renewable energy ministry. The system is used to cook 50 000 meals per day for pilgrims visiting the shrine, resulting in annual savings of 100 000 kg of cooking gas and has been designed to generate steam for cooking even in the absence of electricity to run the feed water pump for circulating water in the system. The project to install and commission the system was completed in 7 months and the system has a design life of 25 years. Osmanabad region in Maharashtra has been blessed with an abundance of sunlight and is ranked the third best region in India in terms of solar insolation. A 10 MW solar power plant in Osmanabad, Maharashtra by RelyOn Solar, generates approximately 18 lakh units per MW which is the highest generation in Maharashtra of any solar power plant. This plant was commissioned in 2013 and the records of one complete year are available.
The Welspun Solar MP project, the largest solar power plant in the state, was set up at a cost of ₹1,100 crore (US$160 million) on 305 ha (3.05 km2) of land and will supply power at ₹8.05 (12¢ US)/kWh. A 130 MW solar power plant project at Bhagwanpur in Neemuch was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is the largest solar producer and one of the top three companies in the renewable energy sector in India.
An upcoming 750 MW solar power plant project in Madhya Pradesh in the district of Rewa will, when completed, be the world's largest solar power plant, replacing the Desert Sunlight project in California which currently has that distinction.
List of largest photovoltaic power stations
India's major solar power production facilities are
|Name of Plant||DC Peak Power
|Kamuthi Solar Power Project||360||2016. Collection of 5 plants, expected to be 648 MW on completion|
|Charanka Solar Park - Charanka village, Patan district, Gujarat ||221||Commissioned April 2012|
|Welspun Solar MP project 151 MW Neemuch Solar Plant - Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh ||151||Commissioned February 2014|
|Sakri solar plant- Maharashtra||125||Commissioned March 2013|
|NTPC solar plants||110||160.8||16.64%||During the year 2015-16|
|Green Energy Development Corporation Ltd (GEDCOL) - Odisha ||50||Commissioned 2014|
|Tata Power Solar Systems Ltd (TPS) - 50 MW NTPC - Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh ||50||Commissioned March, 2014|
|Welspun Energy 50MW Rajasthan Solar Project - Phalodhi, Rajasthan ||50||Commissioned March 2013|
|Green Energy Development Corporation Ltd (GEDCOL) - Odisha ||48||Commissioned 2014|
|Bitta Solar Power Plant (Adani Power) - Bitta, Kutch District, Gujarat ||40||Commissioned January 2012|
|Dhirubhai Ambani Solar Park, Pokhran, Rajasthan ||40||Commissioned in April 2012|
|Azure Power - Rajasthan Photovoltaic Plant, Rajasthan ||35||February 2013|
|Welspun 34 MW, Bathinda, Punjab ||34||Commissioned in August 2015|
|Moser Baer - Patan, Gujarat ||30||Commissioned October 2011|
|Mithapur Solar Power Plant (Tata Power) - Mithapur, Gujarat ||25||Commissioned 25 January 2012|
|Green Energy Development Corporation Ltd (GEDCOL) - Odisha ||20||Commissioned 2014|
|Kadodiya Solar Park by Vivaan Solar - Madhya Pradesh||15||Commissioned 2014|
|Sunark Solar - Odisha||10||Commissioned 2011|
|NTPC Limited - Odisha||10||Commissioned 2014|
|Raajratna Energy Holdings - Bolangir Solar Power Project - Odisha||10||Commissioned 2011|
|Azure Power - Sabarkantha, Khadoda village, Gujarat ||10||Commissioned June 2011, 63 acres, using 36,000 Suntech Power panels.|
|Green Infra Solar Energy Limited - Rajkot, Gujarat ||10||Commissioned November 2011|
|Waa Solar Power Plant (Madhav Power) - Surendranagar, Gujarat ||10||Commissioned December 2011|
|Sharda Construction - Latur, Maharashtra ||10||Commissioned in June 2015, (EPC by Waaree Energies Limited)|
|Ushodaya Project - Smarttrak Solar Systems, Midjil, Telangana||10||Commissioned December 2013|
|Tata Patapur - Odisha||9||Commissioned 2012|
|Infosys complex, Hyderabad||7.2||Commissioned December 2015. Expected power generation 13 million KWh/year at Rs 2.8 per KWh.|
|Skygen Infrabuild - Odisha||5||Commissioned 2011|
|Konark Kranti Energy - Odisha||5||Commissioned 2011|
|Mahindra & Mahindra Solar Plant, Jodhpur, Rajasthan ||5||Completed in January 2012|
|Sivaganga Photovoltaic Plant, Tamil Nadu ||5||Completed December 2010|
|Azure Power - Rajasthan Photovoltaic Plant, Rajasthan ||5||December 2011|
|Varroc Engineering Private Limited - Sakri, Maharashtra ||5||Commissioned in January 2014, (EPC by iNETEST Technologies India Private Ltd)|
|Citra and Sepset Power Plants, Katol, Maharashtra ||4||Commissioned October 2011|
|Sunark Solar - Odisha||3||Commissioned 2011|
|Abacus Holdings - Odisha||3||Commissioned 2011|
|Orion Solar - Odisha||3||Commissioned 2011|
|Skygen Infrabuild - Odisha||3||Commissioned 2011|
|IIT Bombay - Gwal Pahari, Haryana ||3||Commissioned 26 September 2011|
|Itnal Photovoltaic Plant, Belgaum, Karnataka ||3||Completed April 2010|
|Kolar Photovoltaic Plant, Yalesandra, Kolar District, Karnataka ||3||Completed May 2010|
|Tata Power - Mulshi, Maharashtra ||3||Commissioned April 2011|
|Tata Power Solar- Murugan Textiles, Palladam, Tamil Nadu ||2||August 2014|
|Azure Power - Awan Photovoltaic Plant, Punjab ||2||December 2009|
|Jamuria Photovoltaic Plant, West Bengal ||2||August 2009|
|TAL Solar Power Plant - Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh ||2||Commissioned January 2012|
|Omega Renk Bearings Pvt. Ltd. Solar Plant - Madhya Pradesh||1.5||Commissioned 2013|
|M G M Minerals - Odisha||1||Commissioned 2010|
|Raajratna Energy Holdings - Odisha||1||Commissioned 2011|
|Tata Power - Odisha||1||Commissioned 2011|
|Amruth Solar Power Plant - Kadiri, Andhra Pradesh||1||Commissioned March 2012|
|B&G Solar Pvt Ltd - Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu ||1||India's First plant Commissioned under JNNSM scheme 10 June 2011|
|Gandhinagar Solar Plant, Gujarat ||1||21 January 2011|
|NDPC Photovoltaic Plant, Delhi ||1||2010|
|Numeric Power Systems, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu ||1||Commissioned February 2012|
|Rasna Marketing Services LLP, Ahmedabad, Gujarat ||1||Completed in December 2011|
|Solid Solar by Gautam Polymers, Delhi, Haryana, UP, Tamil Nadu ||1|
|Tata Power - Osmanabad, Maharashtra ||1||Commissioned 1 August 2011|
|Urja Global Limited - Jharkhand, Delhi ||1||Commissioned 1 August 2012|
|Thyagaraj stadium Plant - Delhi ||1||April 2010|
|Zynergy, Vannankulam village, Peraiyur, Madurai district, Tamil Nadu ||1||Commissioned January 2012|
|IIT Delhi, Delhi||1||Commissioned January 2015. Installed by Novus Green Energy Systems|
Photovoltaic solar growth forecasts
As of June 2016, the forecast for photovoltaic solar installations is approximately 5 GW in the calendar year 2016. The country saw about 2.2 GW installed in the first half of 2016, more than all of the solar installations in 2015. India’s solar projects underway stood at approximately 22 GW with about 13 GW under construction and about 9 GW in the Request for Proposal (RfP) process.
Solar water heaters
Bangalore is also the first city in the country to put in place an incentive mechanism by providing a rebate of ₹50 (74¢ US) on monthly electricity bills for residents using roof-top thermal systems. These systems are now mandatory for all new structures.
Lack of electricity infrastructure is one of the main hurdles in the development of rural India. India's grid system is considerably under-developed, with major sections of its populace still surviving off-grid. As of 2004, about 80 000 of the nation's villages had not yet become electrified. Of these villages, 18 000 could not be electrified through an extension of the conventional grid. A target for electrifying 5000 such villages was set for the Tenth National Five Year Plan (2002–2007). As of 2004, more than 2700 villages and hamlets had been electrified, mainly using solar photovoltaic systems. Developments in cheap solar technology are considered as a potential alternative that would allow an electricity infrastructure consisting of a network of local-grid clusters with distributed electricity generation. It could allow bypassing (or at least relieving) the need to install expensive, wasteful, long-distance, centralized power delivery systems and yet bring cheap electricity to the masses.
India currently has around 1.2 million solar home lighting systems and 3.2 million solar lanterns sold or distributed. In addition, India has been ranked the number one market in Asia for solar off-grid products.
Solar lamps and lighting
By 2012, a total of 4 600 000 solar lanterns and 861 654 solar powered home lights had been installed. These typically replace kerosene lamps and can be purchased for the cost of a few months' worth of kerosene through a small loan. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is offering a 30% to 40% subsidy for the cost of lanterns, home lights and small systems up to 210 Wp. Twenty million solar lamps are expected by 2022.
Solar photovoltaic water pumping systems are used for irrigation and drinking water. The majority of the pumps are fitted with a 200–3000 watt motor powered with a 1800 Wp PV array which can deliver about 140,000 litres (37,000 US gal) of water per day from a total head of 10 metres (33 ft). By 30 September 2006 a total of 7068 solar photovoltaic water pumping systems had been installed, and by March 2012 7771 had been installed.
Solar driers are used to dry harvests before storage.
Solar refrigeration and air conditioning
Thin-film solar cell panels offer better performance than crystalline silica solar panels in tropical hot and dusty conditions like India. There is less deterioration in the conversion efficiency with an increase in ambient temperature, and no partial shading effect. These factors enhance the performance and reliability (fire safety) of the thin film panels. The maximised solar electricity generation during the hot hours of the day can be used for meeting air conditioning requirements irrespective of other load requirements such as refrigeration, lighting, cooking, water pumping etc. in a residential house. The power generation of the the photovoltaic modules can be enhanced further by 17 - 20% by equipping the modules with a tracking system
Power grid stabilisation
Solar power plants equipped with battery storage systems wherever net energy metering is implemented can use the stored electricity to feed electricity into the power grid when its frequency is below the rated parameter (50 Hz) and draw the excess cheap power from the grid when its frequency is above the rated parameter. Every day, frequency excursions above and below the rated grid frequency are in the order of 100 times in a day. The solar power plant owner would get nearly double the price for the electricity sent into the grid compared to the electricity consumed from the grid if a frequency-based tariff is offered to rooftop solar power plants or solar power plants dedicated to a distribution substation. A power purchase agreement (PPA) is not needed for solar power plants with a battery storage system to effectively serve ancillary services operations and to transmit generated electricity for captive consumption utilising an open access facility. Battery storage is already popular in India with more than 10 million households using batteries as back-up in case of load shedding. Battery storage systems are also used to improve the power factor.
Challenges and opportunities
Land is a scarce resource in India and per capita land availability is low. Dedication of land area for exclusive installation of solar arrays often must compete with other necessities that require land. The amount of land required for utility-scale solar power plants — currently approximately 1 km2 (250 acres) for every 40–60 MW generated — may pose a strain on India's available land resources. One alternative is to use the water surface area available on canals, lakes, reservoirs and the sea for locating large capacity solar power plants. These water bodies can also provide the water needed for periodic cleaning of the solar panels. It is also possible to use highways and railways to avoid the excessive cost of land nearer to load centres and to minimise transmission line costs by installing solar power plants at a height of nearly 10 meters above the roads or rail tracks. The solar power generated by using road area can also be used for in-motion charging of electric vehicles to bring down fuel costs. This practice would also protect the highways from damage from rain and intense summer heat and offer additional comfort to commuters.
The architecture best suited to most of India would be a highly distributed set of individual rooftop power generation systems, all connected via a local grid. However, erecting such an infrastructure, which does not enjoy the economies of scale possible in mass, utility-scale, solar panel deployment, needs the market price of solar technology deployment to substantially decline, so that it attracts the individual and average family size household consumer. That might be possible in the future, because photovoltaics is projected to continue its current cost reductions and become able to compete with fossil fuel. In the year 2016, the levelized tariff in US$ for solar electricity has fallen below 3 cents/kWh which is far cheaper than the fuel cost incurred by coal based power plants in India. The Indian government has recently reduced the solar power purchase price from the maximum allowed levelized tariff of 5.79 Rs/KWh to 4.43 Rs/KWh to reflect the steep fall in the cost of solar power generation equipment. The applicable tariff is offered after applying either viability gap funding (VGF) or accelerated depreciation (AD) incentives.
Some noted think-tanks recommend that India should adopt a policy of developing solar power as a dominant component of the renewable energy mix, since its identity as a densely populated region in the sunny tropical belt of the subcontinent has the ideal combination of both high solar insolation and a high potential consumer base density. In one of the analysed scenarios, India could make renewable resources such as solar the backbone of its economy by 2050, reining in its long-term carbon emissions without compromising its economic growth potential. A recent study has suggested that 100 GW of solar power could be generated through a mix of utility-scale and rooftop solar, with the realizable potential for rooftop solar between 57 GW to 76 GW by 2024.
During the year 2015-16, NTPC with 110 MW solar power installations, generated 160.8 million Kwh at a capacity utilisation of only 16.64% (i.e. 1458 Kwh/Kw) which is below the claimed norms (>20%) by the solar power industry. Though substantial solar power capacity is already under operation, the operating performance data is not made available in the public domain.
It is prudent to encourage solar power plant installations up to a threshold limit (say 7000 MW) by offering direct or indirect incentives. Otherwise, dubious short sighted financial operators from all over the world could take over the industry to encash the liberal Indian bank loans offered by installing substandard and shorter life solar power plant equipment with overrated nameplate capacity. The solar power purchaser (DisComs, etc.), solar power transmission agency (TransCos) and the Indian financial institutions should insist for annual penalty payment from IPPs for not meeting minimum guaranteed capacity utilisation and long term performance guarantee for the equipment backed by insurance coverage to ensure that the guarantee works even after the OEM becomes bankrupt.
Solar Radiation Resource Assessment stations (51 nos) have been installed across India by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to create a database of solar energy potential. Data is collected and reported to the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET), in order to create a Solar Atlas. In June 2015, India started a ₹40 crore (US$5.9 million) project to measure solar radiation with a spatial resolution of 3 km x 3 km. This solar radiation measuring network will provide the basis for the functioning of the Indian Solar Radiation Atlas. According to officials at NIWE, the Solar Radiation Resource Assessment wing (SRRA) 121 ground stations would measure the three parameters of solar radiation: Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI), Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) and Diffuse Horizontal Irradiance (DHI) to give a highly accurate measure of solar radiation in a particular region.
The government of India is promoting the use of solar energy through various strategies. In the latest budget for FY2010-11, the government has announced an allocation of ₹1,000 crore (US$150 million) towards the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and the establishment of a clean energy fund. This is an increase of ₹380 crore (US$56 million) from the previous budget. This new budget has also encouraged private solar companies by reducing customs duty on solar panels by 5% and exempting excise duty on solar photovoltaic panels. This is expected to reduce the cost of a rooftop solar panel installation by 15–20%. The budget also proposed a coal tax of US$1 per metric tonne on domestic and imported coal used for power generation. Additionally, the government has initiated a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) scheme, which is designed to drive investment in low-carbon energy projects.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy provides a 70% subsidy on the installation cost of a solar photovoltaic power plant in North-East states and a 30% subsidy on other regions. The detailed outlay of the National Solar Mission highlights various targets set by the government to increase solar energy in the country's energy portfolio.
Reeling under an acute power crises, the Government of Tamil Nadu has recently unveiled its new Solar Energy Policy which aims at increasing the installed solar capacity from the current approximate of 20 MW to over 3000 MW by 2015. The policy aims at fixing a 6% solar energy requirement on industries and residential buildings for which incentives in the form of tax rebates and current tariff rebates of up to ₹1 (1.5¢ US)/unit will be applicable to those who comply with the Solar Energy Policy. The policy also gives an option for those industries or buildings who do not want to install rooftop solar photo-voltaic systems to invest in the government's policy and be given the same incentives as explained above.
As of the end of July 2015, the following are the five most prominent incentives:
1. Accelerated Depreciation: For profit making enterprises installing rooftop solar systems, 40% of the total investment can be claimed as depreciation in the first year. This will significantly decrease tax to be paid in Year 1 for profit making companies.
2. Capital Subsidies: Capital subsidies are applicable to rooftop solar power plants, up to a maximum of 500 kW. While the original capital subsidy was 30%, it has recently been reduced to 15%.
3. Renewable Energy Certificates: Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are tradeable certificates that provide an incentive to those who generate green power by providing financial incentives for every unit of power they generate.
4. Net Metering Incentives: Net metering incentives depend on two aspects: a) whether the net meter is installed; and b) the incentive policy of the utility company. If there is a net metering incentive policy in our state and if there is a net meter on our rooftop, then we can get financial incentives for the power generated.
5. Assured Power Purchase Agreement (PPA): The power distribution and purchase companies owned by state and central governments guarantee the purchase of solar power as and when it is produced. The PPAs offer a high price equal to that of the peaking power on demand for the solar power which is secondary power or negative load and an intermittent energy source on daily basis.
Hybrid solar plants
In India, solar power is often built to be complementary to wind power as it is generated mostly during the non-monsoon period in daytime. Solar power plants can be located in the inter-space between the towers of wind power plants or nearby areas with a common power evacuation facility. It is also complementary to hydro electricity, which is generated mainly during India's monsoon months. Solar power plants can be installed close to existing hydro power and pumped-storage hydroelectricity plants with the advantage of being able to utilise the existing power evacuation infrastructure jointly and store the surplus secondary power generated by the solar power plants.
Bulk raw materials of solar panels
During the year 2016, the manufacturing capacity of solar cells and solar modules is 1212 MW and 5620 MW respectively in India. Other than high purity silica wafers or rare earth metal tellurium with cadmium (thin film type), the bulk of the solar panel weight (nearly 80%) consists of flat glass. One-hundred to 150 tons of flat glass is used in manufacturing one MW capacity solar photovoltaic module. Low iron flat glass or float glass is manufactured from soda ash and iron free silica. Soda ash manufacturing from common salt is a highly energy intensive process if not extracted from soda lakes or glasswort plants cultivation on alkali soils. To enable an exponential increase in the installation of photovoltaic type solar power plants, the production capacity of flat glass along with its raw materials needs to be rapidly expanded in the country to eliminate future imports / supply constraints.
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