Bhubaneswar, December 28 (Localwire): India is on course to achieve the ambitious target of generating 100 gigawatts (GW) solar power by 2022.
Speaking at the national symposium on Energy Challenges and Promises at a private university here, Solar Power Corporation of India (SPCI) managing director Jatindranath Swain on Saturday said, that the solar energy sector in India had traveled a long way and the present total installed capacity at present is 32 GW.
“When prime minister Narendra Modi had asked in 2015, whether India can generate 100 GW of solar energy, it had most people rubbing their eyes in disbelief. At that time, the country had a meager 2.8 GW of installed solar capacity,” Swain said.
Not only was the solar power generation capacity too little in 2015, but the tariff was also in excess of Rs eight per unit, he said, adding that a big question at that time was who will buy power at such high cost.
“With another 18 GW under installation and 24 GW at various stages of tendering, in three years 100 GW of solar energy generation appears very much possible,” he said, adding that the solar tariff had come down to Rs 2.44 per unit of electricity, which was now cheaper than the cheapest source of energy.
The symposium was organised by the newly established Indian Energy Congress (IEC).
It was presided over by IEC president Pravakar Swain. The symposium was also addressed by energy department principal secretary and Odisha Hydro Power Corporation managing director Bishnupada Sethi; and Biju Patnaik University of Technology vice-chancellor Prof. CR Tripathy.
Swain said that though photovoltaic cells were invented in 1839, its first commercial application was made in 1958. “But the dramatic surge in the price of crude oil since the 1970s’ caused scientists to think about harnessing solar energy,” he said.
The SECI was created to help boost solar capacity through the PPP mode and the massive drop in solar tariff had expanded its acceptability among the electricity distribution companies, Swain said, adding that the entire capacities awarded through SECI tenders had been fully sold out.
Swain also said that India was best placed geographically to harness the vast potential of solar energy generation which was estimated at 749 GW assuming that only three per cent of its wasteland was utilised for solar production at current levels of technology and cell efficiency.
“The solar potential is best in Ladakh, though it has issues concerning evacuation of the generated power. It is followed by Rajasthan, western Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, the Deccan Peninsula, Gangetic plains and the North East in that order,” he said.
He pointed out that because of difficulties in aggregating large chunks of land, most solar installations were now coming up in Rajasthan, Gujarat, MP, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh where large plots of barren land were available.
Swain also said that states like UP, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh needed to do more to attract more solar power investment in the state.
“Odisha government had identified the challenges in the power sector which were crucial to the state’s economy and was venturing into solar and other avenues for generation of electricity,” Sethi said, adding that the target before the government included 100 per cent coverage of households with power supply, availability of 24×7 reliable power and reduction of carbon emission caused by power generation in thermal units.
“All thermal plants would be shut down in 20 to 30 years time as Odisha was striving to become carbon neutral,” Sethi said.