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Solar Power in India

2024 JAN 25

Mains   > Environment & Ecology   >   Global warming   >   Renewable energy

Syllabus: GS 3 > Environment & Ecology   >   Global warming   >   Renewable energy



  • Recently, the Prime Minister announced the ‘Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana’, a government scheme under which one crore households will get rooftop solar power systems.
  • The scheme aims to equip one crore poor to middle-class households with rooftop solar panels in a bit to provide electricity from solar energy.
  • The scheme would not only reduce the electricity bill of the poor and middle class but would also make India self-reliant in the energy sector.
  • Rooftop solar panels are photovoltaic systems installed on building roofs, connected to the main power supply. They reduce grid electricity usage and save on electricity costs. These systems require only an upfront capital investment and minimal maintenance costs.
  • The government's Rooftop Solar Programme, launched in 2014, aimed for 40 GW of rooftop solar capacity by 2022. However, failing to meet this target, the deadline was extended to 2026. ThePradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana is a renewed effort to achieve this 40 GW goal.


  • India is endowed with vast solar energy potential. About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energy is incident over India's land area with most parts receiving 4-7 kWh per sq. m per day.
  • National Institute of Solar Energy has assessed the country’s solar potential of about 748 GW.


  • According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s website, solar power installed capacity in India has reached around 73.31 GW as of December 2023.
  • Meanwhile, rooftop solar installed capacity is around 11.08 GW as of December 2023.
  • In terms of total solar capacity, Rajasthan is at the top with 18.7 GW. Gujarat is at the second position with 10.5 GW
  • When it comes to rooftop solar capacity, Gujarat tops the list with 2.8 GW, followed by Maharashtra by 1.7 GW.


  • The Government has set a target of achieving 500 GW of installed capacity from non-fossil fuels, including around 270 GW of solar capacity, by 2030. 


  • Abundant Solar Resources: India has a geographical advantage for solar energy generation, given its tropical location. For instance, most parts of India receive 4-7 kWh of solar radiation per square meter per day with 250-300 sunny days in a year
  • Energy Demand and Security: According to the IEA's World Energy Outlook, India is expected to lead global energy demand growth over the next 30 years. Solar power could help meet this demand and improve energy security by reducing reliance on imported fossil fuels.
  • Environmental Benefits: Solar energy is a clean and renewable source of energy. Its adoption helps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, contributing to the fight against climate change and improving air quality, which is a significant concern in many Indian cities.
  • Rural Electrification: Solar power, particularly decentralized and off-grid systems like rooftop installations, can provide crucial electricity to rural areas in India, where grid connectivity is often unreliable, thereby enhancing quality of life and economic opportunities.
  • Falling Costs of Solar Technology: The cost of solar panels and related technology has been decreasing, making solar power more competitive with conventional energy sources. This cost reduction has accelerated the adoption of solar power across the country.


  • Land acquisition:
    • Per capita land availability is very low in India.
    • For instance, the need for large areas for solar installations often competes with other land requirements, such as agriculture, which is a primary livelihood for a large portion of the population. 
  • Multiple governing agencies:
    • Complexity of subsidy structure and involvement of too many agencies like MNRE, IREDA, electricity boards and electricity regulatory commissions makes the development of solar PV projects difficult.
  • High capital investments:
    • The high initial costs of establishing solar farms make them financially challenging for financially strained state-run DISCOMs and for residential consumers or SMEs wanting to install solar rooftop projects.
  • Grid connectivity:
    • Lack of necessary transmission infrastructure and power storage facilities such as batteries limit the viability of integrating solar power stations with conventional sources.
    • For instance, the Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka, one of the world's largest, faces challenges in integrating its power into the national grid due to inadequate transmission infrastructure and lack of power storage facilities.
  • Quality of power:
    • A new area of concern is the quality of solar energy installations in India.
    • Indian developers buy from second-tier or poor-quality Chinese manufacturers who sell modules at cheaper rates.
    • These panels degrade quickly and increase cost of production.
  • Human resource shortages:
    • Shortage of trained technicians for installationperiodic repair and maintenance in acute in India.
    • Also, limited academic and research facilities in this field means India will continue to be dependent on import of technology and man power.
  • India’s domestic solar module manufacturing capacity is very low:
    • Domestic manufacturing capacities in the solar sector do not match up to the present potential demand for solar power in the country.
    • Backward integration in the solar value chain is absent as India has very limited capacity for manufacturing solar wafers and polysilicon.
    • Low manufacturing capacities, coupled with cheaper imports from China have rendered Indian products uncompetitive in the domestic market.
  • Import dependency:
    • A significant challenge is India's reliance on foreign countries, especially China, for solar modules and components
    • For instance, during the fiscal year 2021-22, India imported solar cells and modules worth about USD 76.62 billion from China alone, accounting for 78.6% of India’s total imports in this category.
  • Low budget allocation to SECI:
    • Budget estimate for the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for 2022-23 showed that the investment in Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has been nearly halved — to less than Rs 1,000 crores from over Rs 1,800 crore.


  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE):
    • MNRE is the nodal Ministry for all matters relating to new and renewable energy. 
  • National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE):
    • NISE, an autonomous institution of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), is the apex National R&D institution in the field Solar Energy.
  • Solar Energy Corporation of India:
    • It is a company of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, established to facilitate the implementation of the National Solar Mission.
    • It is the only Central Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) dedicated to the solar energy sector.


  • National Solar Mission (NSM):
    • Launched in 2010, aims to make India a leader in solar energy. The target was revised from 20 GW to 100 GW by 2022, including 60 GW from ground-based and 40 GW from rooftop solar installations.
    • The mission is one of the key components of the National Action Plan on Climate Change.
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA): A coalition of countries near the Tropics, launched at COP-21 in Paris to address energy needs, headquartered at NISE, Gurugram.
  • Global Solar Atlas: ISA and World Bank's tool for identifying global solar power sites.
  • One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG): Proposed by India's PM in 2018, aims for a global solar power grid.
  • Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme: Indian government initiative to boost solar PV module manufacturing and exports.
  • National Wind-Solar Hybrid Energy Policy: MNRE's policy for promoting grid-connected wind-solar PV systems.
  • Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects: Supports States/UTs in setting up solar parks over 500 MW.
  • Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India (SRISTI): Financial support to DISCOMs for implementing rooftop solar projects.
  • Suryamitra Scheme: Skill development program by NISE for solar power plant workforce.
  • Foreign Investment: 100% foreign equity investment allowed in solar panel manufacturing.
  • Solar Off-grid Programmes:
    • Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY): Illuminating regions with solar LED street lights.
    • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evem Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM): Encourages farmers to use solar power for irrigation and extra income.


  • Enhance R&D: Address quality issues in solar PV module manufacturing through improved research and technology development.
  • Improve Cooperation: Achieving 100 GW solar target needs stronger commitment from states and DISCOMs, alongside central government efforts.
  • Separate Financing: Distinguish loan structures for renewable energy from conventional power to avoid impacts of NPAs.
  • Develop Indigenous Industries: Create a comprehensive manufacturing ecosystem for solar energy components.
  • Increase Demand: Boost clean power demand to improve economic returns and strengthen the solar sector.
  • Prioritize Rooftop Solar: Focus on residential and industrial rooftop solar projects to meet the 100 GW target.
  • Predictable Policy Regime: Stable policies and regulations are essential to attract private investment in solar.
  • Global Leadership: As head of the International Solar Alliance, India should lead in solar PV infrastructure development in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Circular Economy for Solar Systems: Adopt recycling and reuse strategies in the solar PV supply chain to manage waste and enhance manufacturing capacity.
  • Address Solar Waste: Develop guidelines for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in solar PV waste management, following EU's lead.


Q. “Despite making significant progress in solar power generation, India is yet to realise its solar potential”. Discuss the challenges associated with solar power sector in India and suggest measures to overcome this issue? (15 marks, 250 words)