Harnessing solar energy for electricity offers numerous advantages over conventional energy generation, including reduced environmental impact, lower operating costs, and increased energy independence. Government initiatives such as subsidies for solar installations, tax incentives, and renewable energy targets aim to promote solar power adoption and sustainability.
UPSC Mains General Studies Paper – 3 Mains 2020
- In Introduction, try to write about India’s potential in solar energy.
- In Body,
- Discuss benefits of solar electricity in comparison to conventional energy.
- Discuss initiatives taken by the government in this field.
- Try to conclude with a national solar mission and futuristic outlook.
India lying in the tropical belt has an advantage of receiving peak solar radiation for 300 days, amounting 2300-3,000 hours of sunshine equivalent to above 5,000 trillion kWh. Solar photovoltaics power can effectively be harnessed providing huge scalability in India. Recently, India achieved 5th global position in solar power deployment by surpassing Italy. Solar power capacity has increased by more than 11 times in the last five years from 2.6 GW in March,2014 to 30 GW in July 2019.
Advantages of solar energy over conventional energy:
- Energy Security: India is dependent on imports to fulfill its energy demands, thereby incurring huge expenditure and uncertainty with regards to energy security. Thus, solar energy being cheap and easily available can fulfill the energy demands.
- Pollution Free: Solar power is pollution free and causes no greenhouse gases emission after installation. It reduces emission of greenhouse gases like CO2, NOx etc. and consequently increases pollution level.
- Reduce Petroleum Energy Demand: India imports more than 80% of its total energy demand which makes India vulnerable to external price shocks. Import of oil, natural gas led to loss of precious forex reserves.
- Social Development: The problem of power cuts and unavailability of electricity, especially in rural areas, leads to improper human development. Mostly energy demands are fulfilled by subsidized kerosene, leading to loss for exchequer.
- Solar Energy Diplomacy: By formation of an international solar energy alliance, India is leading the solar energy rich countries on a global level. This has made India a leader in the fight against climate change. This can help to break the monopoly of conventional fuel export nations like OPEC countries.
- Economic Benefits: Increasing investment in the solar energy sector will give a boost to domestic industries manufacturing solar photovoltaic cells, generating employment, reducing costly imports, and increasing export to ISA members and other countries.
- Reduce transmission loss: In solar power energy overhead wires are not required, so no transmission loss. Solar energy conversion equipment has a longer life and needs lesser maintenance and hence provides higher energy infrastructure security.
The Government of India has taken various interventions in the field of solar energy. These are:
National Solar Mission: It is one of the eight key National Mission’s which comprise India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). To create an enabling policy framework to achieve cumulative targets of 1,00,000 MW by 2022. The target will principally comprise 40 GW Rooftop and 60 GW through Large and Medium Scale Grid Connected Solar Power Projects.
Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA): The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) which provides term loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
The scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra-mega Solar Power Projects: The scheme was rolled out by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy in 2014 to set up at least 25 Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects targeting over 40,000 MW of solar power installed capacity.
Surya Mitra programme to prepare qualified workforce.
Off Grid and Decentralized Solar PV Application Programme: Installation of an additional off-grid solar capacity of 118 MWp by 2020 through following application-wise targets:
- 3,00,000 solar street lights.
- 25,00,000 solar study lamps.
- 100 MWp of off-grid solar power plants.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Uttham Abhiyaan: The scheme aims to add solar and other renewable capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022. The Scheme consists of three components:
- Component A: 10,000 MW of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Renewable Power Plants of individual plant size up to 2 MW.
- Component B: Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.
- Component C: Solarisation of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Agriculture Pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.
Atal Jyoti Yojana: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) launched the Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY) to illuminate dark regions through the establishment of solar street lights. Phase I was implemented during September 2016- March 2018. Phase II is being implemented during 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Scheme On Scale Up Of Access To Clean Energy For Rural Productive Uses: The Scheme aims to enhance the use of reliable and affordable renewable energy for rural productive uses/livelihoods in un-served and under-served areas in 3 states; Assam, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha for strengthening rural livelihoods, improving income generation and reduce use of fossil fuels.
With its pollution free nature, virtually inexhaustible supply and global distribution, solar energy is an extremely attractive energy resource. India, with its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) commitment of 100 GW of solar power out of 175 GW renewable energy by 2022, can surely benefit from this energy resource.
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