In their usual bhakt speak, someone tom-tommed how under Modi’s leadership, india is the largest solar power producer in the world. Is it ?
Till 2018, India had installed 33000 MW of solar power. China had installed 1.76 lakh MW.
The US, Japan and Germany had all installed far more of MW solar power than india.
Even in share of solar power in total electricity consumed, India was doing well at 5 % last year, but was beaten by Germany and Greece at 8 % each, and Italy, Chile and Japan at 7 % each.
India is the most vulnerable among 67 countries to climate risks. Extreme weather events seem to have become the latest risk to India’s renewable energy goals. Freak climatic conditions are damaging renewable energy projects, threatening a business which survives on wafer-thin margins.
A storm in Rajasthan, known for its deserts and sunny days, tore through a solar park and blew away modules of various developers. In the adjoining state of Madhya Pradesh, a generator found sections of his project submerged in 10 feet of water due to unseasonal rains.
In 2015, prime minister Narendra Modi’s government set an ambitious target to scale up India’s solar and wind power capacity to 160 gigawatts by 2022.
Capacity addition ramped up soon after the target was announced, but has slouched over 2018, with slow adoption of rooftop solar panels and investors growing wary over the viability of the large-scale projects auctioned by the government.
India’s renewable energy industry is not as hot anymore, and jobs have become harder to come by.
Only about 12,000 new workers found employment at solar and wind projects in the financial year ended March 2019, compared with over 30,000 in the previous year.
Overall, India achieved about 65 % of the capacity addition in renewable energy that it had targeted in the last three years.
Poor policies are hurting India’s solar energy sector. There has been a dramatic decline in new capacity additions, and the trend is likely to continue. “Total installation of utility projects in financial year 2018-19 is expected at only 4.1 gigawatts (GW), down a very significant 55% over previous year and well short of MNRE’s (ministry of new and renewable energy) 16 GW annual plan,” Bridge to India said in Nov 2018.
Most of the solar panels used in India are imported from China and Malaysia. In July, India imposed a safeguard duty on solar panel imports from the two countries—25% for one year, 20% for the next six months, and 15% for the subsequent six months.
Besides, in September, the Indian government also moved to impose a cap of Rs 2.5 per unit as the maximum price that developers could quote at reverse auctions for solar projects.
This cap, along with the safeguard duty, acts as a “de-facto policy” that deters bidders.
Coal-fired plants generate 72% of India’s electricity. This, combined with the growth of coal-consuming industrial sectors like steel, is why the solid fuel source will continue to be integral to India’s economy in the next couple of decades.