Future Prospects for the Solar Energy Industry in India

a solar photovoltaic array in India
India’s growing solar energy industry holds great potential, according to a report from Novonous.
(cc) Colin Ashe

The solar power potential of India is estimated to be 5,000 trillion kilowatt-hours per year, and is thus considered by many to be the most favorable energy option for the subcontinent. However, today India has an installed solar power capacity of only 9.84 megawatts which is about less than 0.1 percent of the total installed renewable energy of the country. Currently total installed renewable energy stands at 13,242.41 MW, according to India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

A new report from Novonous — Analysis of Solar Energy Industry in India & Its Future Prospects — discusses the potential for growth.

India’s power sector has a total installed capacity of approximately 146,753 megawatt, of which 54% is coal-based, 25% hydro, 8% is renewable, and the balance is gas and nuclear-based. Power shortages are estimated at about 11% of total energy and 15% of peak capacity requirements, which is likely to increase in the coming years. The cost of production ranges from Rs 15 to Rs 20 per unit for solar energy, which is very high when compared to Rs 2 to Rs 5 per unit for other conventional sources in India.

Much of the country does not have an electrical grid, so local solar power installations would be a boon for water pumping, to begin replacing India’s four to five million diesel powered water pumps, each consuming about 3.5 kilowatts. Potential solar energy systems appropriate for this environment include both solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technology.

According to its 11th Five Year Plan, the government of India projects a massive expansion in installed solar capacity, and aims to reduce the price of electricity generated from solar energy to match that from fossil fuels like coal and diesel by 2030.

The Integrated Energy Policy of India envisages electricity generation installed capacity of 800,000 MW by 2030 with a substantial contribution from renewable energy.

India has been ranked 7th worldwide for solar photovoltaic cell production and 9th in solar thermal power generation. This capacity is growing rapidly due to the entry of various private players in the manufacture of solar energy equipment. According to Novonous Insights, the Indian solar energy sector is expected to grow at 25% year on year over the next few years. At this rate the global market is likely to exceed the annual production mark of 12 gigawatts during 2012. Likewise, the Indian market demand is expected to reach 200 MW by 2012. The implementation of the three-phase plan for solar photovoltaic capacity expansion is expected to begin this year, with the Indian Government spending approximately $20 billion US over a 30 year period.

The report from Novonous provides solar sector-insights; growth drivers and inhibitors; on going and new projects to be commissioned; future forecasts for solar photovoltaic modules, cells, and solar thermal installations; key trends; and profiles of key players in this sector.

The report provides detailed information on the Indian solar energy market with five year forecasts up to 2015. It also includes detailed profiling of eighteen solar photovoltaic module and solar thermal equipment manufacturers approved by MNRE and IREDA, apart from the turnkey projects. The companies profiled in this report are: Moser Baer Photovoltaic Limited, Tata BP Solar, Photon Solar Energy Systems, HHV Solar Technologies Private Limited, Titan Energy Systems Limited, Sun Energy Systems, Applied Materials, Signet Solar, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Central Electronics Limited, Renewable Energy Systems Limited, Waaree Energies Private Limited, Micro Sun Tech Private Limited, E to E Energy, Punj Lloyd Delta Renewables, TRA International, Reliance Industries Limited Solar Group, and XL Telecom & Energy Limited.

Read Large-Scale Solar Power Systems: Construction and Economics from Amazon.