India has reiterated its goal of scaling up its solar power capacity to 100 GW by 2022. It is targeting 60 GW from wind energy and plans to bring in hydro power, from which it generates 40 GW, into the category of renewable energy. By 2022, the country plans to generate around 175 GW from clean and renewable sources.
Combined with 1.1 GW of expected rooftop solar capacity, India should add a total of 8.8 GW in 2017, ranking it amongst the top three global markets after China and the USA.
International Finance Corp, the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, could invest about Rs 100 crore in renewable energy company Clean Max Enviro Energy Solutions, one of the largest solar solutions providers in India.
According to a disclosure made on its website, IFC, one of the largest private sector investors in the country, said proceeds from the round is expected to be used by the Mumbai-based company to commission more than 250 MW of solar projects over the next three years.
Solar rooftop: Government of India targets to achieve 100 GW solar capacity by 2022. Out of this, 40 20 GW is planned to be deployed through rooftop PV plants.
In 2017, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, along with the Solar Energy Corporation of India, has already identified several solar power projects with cumulative capacity of 20 gigawatts. Under the second phase an additional 20 gigawatts capacity will be added. While the existing solar power park program has been expanded the overall installed capacity target remains the same at 100 gigawatts by March 2022. This could essentially mean that the government recognizes that the planned capacity addition of 40 gigawatts under rooftop solar segment may be too large a target.
Based on tariffs of electricity for commercial consumers across various states, it is evident that solar rooftop tariffs are already at parity. In cases, where the users can avail accelerated depreciation (AD), the cost of solar is actually lower than the commercial tariffs in many states. Hence, we expect that no subsidy will be necessary for solar installations by commercial segments in most states.
As per existing scheme of the Government of India, 15% capital subsidy is allowed for residential and institutional segments. At Rs. 8 crore/MW, it is estimated that a Central Financial Assistance of a total of Rs. 12,000 crores may be required by 2022 to achieve 10 GW of rooftop capacity through residential/ institutional segments. Remaining 30 GW is expected to be deployed through commercial and industrials segments, which would require no subsidy but enabling policy and regulatory environment and support from utilities. The quantum of financial assistance required for 10 GW of rooftop by 2022 must be considered as an upper bound since the reduction in capital costs of rooftop systems is not considered.
RE-Based Electricity Access through Mini-Grids: The Government of India has also rolled out “Power for All” programme to address India’s energy security challenge. This programme seeks to provide round the clock electricity to each household by 2019. However, the programme appears ambitious when approximately 400 million people do not have access to electricity today.
A transition solution could be to provide immediate access to basic electricity needs by RE-based tail-end generation with or without the need to create new distribution infrastructure (mini-grids). The table-3 provides the year wise target and cost differential envisaged for such mini-grid systems. The Expert Group acknowledges that such interventions would also require consideration of technical aspects of generation systems, distribution infrastructure, and even storage systems so that integration with the utility grid is possible whenever utility grid reaches and becomes reliable.
Solar-Powered Agriculture Feeders: The 100 GW solar power target is divided into large-scale centralized power plants (50 GW) and distributed smaller scale projects (40 GW of rooftop mainly used by industrial, commercial and residential consumers and 10 GW grid-connected tail-end plants). The only option for solar power use in agriculture presently is in the form of individual solar pumps. They are suitable for areas not served by the grid and with high water tables, but require high upfront capital subsidies
It is estimated that during 13th Plan Period, about 62,800 circuit kilometers (ckm) of transmission lines, 15,000 MW of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) terminal capacity and 128,000 MVA of transformation capacity of the 400 kV and above voltage level transmission systems would be required. Accordingly, the plan estimates that total fund requirement for 13th Plan would be of the order of Rs. 260,000 crore as against Rs. 234,000 crore required in 12th plan period. This would consist of Rs. 160,000 crore for 400kV and above transmission system and about 100,000 crores for 220 kV and below systems most of which would be for state transmission systems.
In 2015, India’s 275 GW of installed electricity generating capacity is significantly higher than 140 GW of peak demand. In fact, India’s coal generation capacity alone is higher than its peak demand. Despite installed capacity exceeding power demand, some parts of the country face acute power shortages. The critical reasons are – coal supply shortages, high level of transmission and distribution losses, and poor financial health of utilities. Further, unlike domestic coal, the price of imported coal is unregulated; its price can be quite volatile. Imported coal in the recent past has been significantly more expensive than Indian coal. Distribution companies (discoms) that buy electricity generated with imported coal face significant and unpredictable upward pressure on tariffs. Some utilities have tried to avoid these high costs by simply not buying power, even when the result is local shortages, rolling blackouts, and increase in fixed costs.
These fundamental problems in the power sector are hampering the efficient use of the existing system to even meet the grid-connected demand. On top of this, more than 300 million people in India are still waiting for access to electricity. Rampant load-shedding and low-quality electricity supply forces people to resort to private, local, costly and dirty solutions such as diesel generators, which pose both health and environmental concerns. On top of this, estimates suggest that by 2021-22, India’s electricity demand will be more than double the level in 2011-12.
One of India’s major advantages today and going forward is that its renewable energy (RE) potential is vast and largely untapped. Recent estimates show that India’s solar potential is greater than 750 GW and its announced wind potential is 302 GW (actual could be higher than 1000 GW). India Energy Security Scenarios 2047 show a possibility of achieving a high of 410 GW of wind and 479 GW of solar PV by 20472. The potential of biomass and small hydro is also significant. Thus, renewable energy has the potential to anchor the development of India’s electricity sector
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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