In order to maintain its economic growth and raise its population’s level of living, India has a massive requirement for energy. Energy demand is predicted to rise in the future due to the country’s large population (nearly 1.3 billion) and burgeoning economy. Yet, there are several obstacles the government must overcome, including high energy import costs, worries about energy security, and environmental problems. To meet these problems, India has set lofty targets for increasing the proportion of renewable energy in its overall energy mix. Solar energy, with its vast potential and cost-effectiveness, has emerged as a primary emphasis area for the country among renewable energy sources. In this piece, we’ll look at India’s energy mix and its long-term energy aspirations, with a special focus on the sun.
Current Status of Solar Energy in India:
The use of solar energy in India has advanced greatly in recent years. The country has committed to installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, with solar accounting for 100 GW of that total. India had 43.3 GW of solar capacity built as of September 2021, which was almost 9% of the country’s total installed electricity capacity. Furthermore, in terms of total installed solar capacity, the country is among the top five worldwide.
The decreasing price of solar power is one of the primary factors encouraging the expansion of solar energy in India. Solar power has become increasingly competitive with traditional energy sources as its price has dropped. The National Solar Mission and the Solar Park Scheme are only two examples of the many programmes and policies the government has implemented to advance solar power.
Future Energy Goals:
India has lofty targets to achieve in its quest to diversify its energy supply away from fossil fuels. It is expected that solar energy will contribute 280 GW towards the country’s goal of 450 GW by the year 2030. As opposed to the prior goal of 175 GW by 2022, this is a substantial increase. The goal is to have 40% of the country’s power come from sources other than fossil fuels by the year 2030.
The government has launched several solar energy programmes and policies in order to accomplish these aims. The KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan) project is one of the most important initiatives since it encourages the installation of solar panels on agricultural property and gives farmers a new way to make money. Plans for ultra-mega solar parks, each with a capacity of 2–4 GW, have also been revealed by the government.
Challenges Faced by Solar Energy in India:
The development of solar energy in India has come a long way, but there are still many obstacles in the way of the country’s lofty energy goals.
One of the key challenges is the issue of intermittency. Solar energy is dependent on sunlight, which is not available 24 hours a day. This makes it difficult to integrate solar energy into the grid and ensure a stable supply of electricity. Energy storage devices, which can store extra energy created during the day and supply it during periods of low solar radiation, are being actively pursued by the government as a solution to this problem.
Having enough available land is one of the difficulties. Land for solar projects is becoming increasingly scarce in India due to the country’s limited land resources. This is especially true for solar parks and other large-scale solar projects, which require extensive areas of land. To solve this problem, the government is looking into new technologies, such as solar panels that may be installed on rooftops or floating solar farms.
The need for funding is a problem. Often, the hefty initial investment required by solar projects prevents them from being funded. Government initiatives like the Green Energy Corridor (GEC) and the Infrastructure Investment Trust (InvIT) aim to attract investment in the sector and thereby alleviate the problem. Additionally, the government has stated its intention to establish a special fund to underwrite renewable energy initiatives.
The problem of transmission and distribution infrastructure is another issue. Although renewable energy sources in India are increasing in capacity, the country’s power transmission and distribution infrastructure is often unable to keep up. The federal government is taking action by funding the creation of a smart grid capable of handling the intermittent nature of renewable energy.
Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy:
Solar energy has various environmental benefits when compared to conventional forms of energy, which make it a key focus area for India in its efforts to expand the amount of renewable energy in its energy mix. Some of the solar energy’s positive impacts on the environment include:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: Using solar power helps the environment by eliminating the release of climate-altering greenhouse gases. On contrary, fossil fuel-based power generation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which have serious environmental and health implications.
- Reducing air pollution: Cleaner air is another benefit of switching to solar power, as solar panels don’t release any toxic byproducts. Coal, oil, and gas, the traditional energy sources, emit harmful pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.
- Reducing water usage: Solar energy does not require any water for power generation, but conventional sources of energy demand vast volumes of water for cooling and other processes. This is especially crucial in places like India, where fresh water is in short supply.
- Reducing land degradation: Land that is unfit for farming or other purposes can be used for solar power projects, which in turn helps to slow the rate at which farmland is lost and forests are cut down. In India, where land is at a premium, this is of utmost importance.
- Reducing dependence on finite resources: Using solar energy can lessen our reliance on scarce resources like fossil fuels, whose extraction and transportation contribute to environmental damage. As opposed to fossil fuels, solar power may be used indefinitely without depleting the supply.
India’s efforts to boost the proportion of renewable energy in its energy mix now include a strong focus on solar power. The government’s legislative backing and the falling price of solar electricity have both aided the industry’s rapid growth. While the UK has made some strides towards its energy targets, much more needs to be done. Intermittency, lack of suitable land, lack of sufficient funding, and inadequate transmission and distribution infrastructure are all problems that need to be addressed. Despite this, solar energy is a viable choice for the country because of the positive impact it has on the environment, which is important as the nation attempts to strike a healthy balance between economic development and environmental preservation. Solar energy has the potential to play a big part in India’s energy mix and contribute to a more sustainable future provided it receives continuous investment and regulatory support.
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