Solar PV in India is quickly gaining ground

Solar panels in Vellakoil, Tamil Nadu, India. Photo credit: Vinaykumar8687 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia.

By Anders Lorenzen

Solar PV (Photovoltaic) has been touted by the Indian government, and one of their most promising low-carbon energy technologies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

And the effort to supercharge solar PV capacity is now showing dividends.

According to Global Data, a data and analytics company, even though the adaptation of solar PV started later, it has now overtaken wind power in terms of installed capacity. This makes it the top clean energy producer as of January 2021 in the country that is the world’s third-largest emitter.

The future looks bright for solar in India.

The future is solar

Data from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy showed solar PV reaching 38.8 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity in January, with wind power at 38.7 GW. Analysts expect that with India’s solar PV policy push, the energy technology is not only likely to maintain but also extend its lead. It is estimated that 107GW of new capacity will be built between 2021-2030 with 64GW for wind.

Ankit Mathur, Practice Head of Power at GlobalData, commented on the data: “Within a span of six years starting in 2011, solar PV could only reach 40% of the total wind installed capacity in 2016. However, its installation capacity reached on par with wind by the end of 2020 and then overtook by the end of Jan 2021.”

Abundant resources

Experts believe that some of the reasons for the exponential growth is the presence of abundant solar PV resources spanning across various states, the declining installation costs, a smaller gestation period, and the rigorous focus on solar PV by the government.

The cost factor plays a key role in solar getting preference over wind. The drop in the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for RE technologies over the last decade has been significant in the country. The drop in the LCOE for wind has been around 65% compared to 85% drop in solar.

Mathur added: “With the government planning to provide renewed encouragement to domestic solar manufacturing post-COVID-19, the solar PV sector is poised to reap benefits by attracting new investments, which will further strengthen project development activities and consolidate domestic manufacturing capabilities.”

With the rapid growth of solar followed by wind, the two top renewable energy technologies are becoming bigger players in India’s energy landscape. But with the country’s total energy capacity at 375GW, there’s still some way to go to take the lead over fossil fuels and other energy sources.

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