02 July 2014 | Tobias Engelmeier
Is the Indian solar market finally going to live up to its huge promise? I have hopes that it will. The new government has made all the right “noises”. It wants to embed solar firmly within a larger energy strategy for the country. The new Power Minister, Piyush Goyal, wants to take his cue from China, currently the world’s largest solar market. At the same time (and predictably) power tariffs have been hiked by as much as 30% in some states. And the cost of solar is falling again. All this is great news. The only concern is the possible imposition of anti-dumping duties. However, several ministers have already spoken out against them. Perhaps they will be dropped.
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At BRIDGE TO INDIA, we strive to provide you with the information and analysis you need to navigate the Indian solar market. We do this through our reports, through regular blog pieces and our weekly newsletter. Through the various publications, we estimate that we reach about 80% of professionals in the Indian solar market. Our goal is to help create a functioning market for solar in India – and we have witnessed it coming a long way since we started covering it in 2010. These are exciting times. Everything is changing: India, the energy system, business models, development models and (unfortunately) also the climate. We, too, have to change and improve. For that reason, I am reaching out to you. If you can spare 15 minutes, it would be wonderful to have your feedback on our publications. Are we relevant and timely and analytical enough? Have we missed something or made a mistake? How can we do better?
Since 2010, India has built a solar capacity of over 2.5 GW. Like in many other rapidly growing markets, there have been teething issues. A number of plants under-perform. To bring more transparency to the market, we have launched a new series of India Solar Case Studies, starting with a 36 MWp plant in Rajasthan. The case studies can help future developers make better decisions with respect to location, EPC, technology and maintenance. And there are many more projects to be built in India. To visualize that, we have created an India Solar Map showing the potential of solar in India. It is virtually limitless: Using 0.5% of its land or half the desert district of Barmer, India could build 1,000 GW of solar power, enough to generate 1.5 times the current electricity demand. This is, of course, a thought experiment. The reality would look different, with solar plants spread across the country.
Yet, it is important to know, that solar can play a very central role in India’s future power strategy. How solar is growing every day, what the policies and the projects are, is documented in our new editions of the India Solar Compass and the India Solar Handbook. They should give you the data and information on the market you need. Both publications have been entirely re-worked to make them more concise and useful to you.
In our blogs, we have covered a lot of ground. I invite you to browse our blog website. We looked at a number of solar policies, at the challenges for utilities and at business models around e.g. solar irrigation pumps. The focus in the last weeks was on two issues: the first was, of course, the new BJP government that has been voted into power with a majority in parliament. Subsequently, there have been many very encouraging statements for the solar market in India. We have covered them in some detail. On the other hand, there is the threat of an imposition of anti-dumping duties. We have taken a strong stance against them, because we are convinced that they would set the market back by two years. That would be a great loss. It would put many Indian solar companies out of business and would make solar power a distant dream for millions of consumers.
In the coming months, we are looking forward to presenting a number of thought leadership reports on the future of solar in India. There is a growing consensus that solar goals can be more ambitious than the current 20 GW of the NSM. 100 GW is quite feasible. But in what manner? Centralized or distributed? We compare different scenarios: building GW-scale “mega” projects, MW-scale projects, commercial rooftop projects or residential systems. We look at the landed cost of power, at infrastructure requirements, at job creation and at ecosystem effects. In a second report, we look at the technical challenges for the grid operators in integrating significant distributed renewable sources in a specific geographical area: How to ensure stability and safety? How can an uninterrupted supply be guaranteed? What are the lessons from countries which already have a high renewable energy penetration? A third report focuses on what solar can contribute to improving the power supply in the city of Patna. This will be along the lines of our analysis from last year on converting Delhi into a solar city.
The best way for you to stay up to date with our publications and the Indian solar market is through our weekly newsletter. You can subscribe to it on our homepage. Also, we will be presenting you the BRIDGE TO INDIA website in a completely new and improved design that will hopefully make it even easier for you to access our content. As a valued reader, I ask you to please share your feedback with us.