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Solar Energy: Current Status and Schemes in India

As of the last update in September 2021, solar energy in India was experiencing significant growth and was becoming a crucial component of the country's energy mix. India is one of the world's leading nations in terms of solar capacity expansion and has set ambitious renewable energy targets.


Solar Capacity

India had rapidly expanded its solar power capacity in the preceding years. It had surpassed 40 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity, with both utility-scale solar farms and rooftop solar installations contributing to the overall capacity.


Solar Policies

The Indian government has launched various initiatives and policies to promote solar energy adoption. These included financial incentives, subsidies, and tax benefits for solar projects and manufacturers.


Solar Auctions

India's solar growth was primarily driven by competitive auctions for solar projects. These auctions allowed developers to bid for tariffs, resulting in record-low solar power prices, making solar energy increasingly cost-competitive with conventional power sources.


International Initiatives

India was actively participating in international solar initiatives, like the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The ISA is a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries aiming to collaborate on solar deployment and promote solar energy adoption globally.


Solar Manufacturing

The Indian government has been emphasizing domestic solar manufacturing to reduce dependency on imports and boost the 'Make in India' campaign. Efforts were being made to promote solar equipment manufacturing and create a self-sufficient solar ecosystem.


Challenges:

Despite the significant progress, India faced challenges in the solar energy sector. These included issues like land acquisition for large-scale solar projects, grid integration and stability, financing hurdles, and policy implementation at the state level.

Solar Schemes in India

 Several solar schemes and initiatives had implemented by Indian government
Several solar schemes and initiatives had implemented by Indian government

As of the last update in September 2021, the Indian government has implemented several solar schemes and initiatives to promote the adoption of solar energy across the country. These schemes aimed to accelerate the growth of solar capacity and increase energy sustainability.


1. Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) is a monumental initiative launched by the Government of India in 2010 to promote the adoption of solar energy and establish India as a global leader in renewable energy. The mission had the ambitious target of deploying 20 GW of grid-connected solar power by 2022. Named after India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, the mission aims to reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels, combat climate change, and provide sustainable energy solutions to meet its growing power demands.


Key Components of JNNSM

Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission comprises various components that work in synergy to achieve its ambitious goals:

1. Grid-Connected Solar Power Projects

Under this component, JNNSM focuses on setting up large-scale solar power plants connected to the national grid. These projects harness solar energy efficiently and inject it into the grid to meet the country's growing energy demands.

2. Off-Grid Solar Applications

The mission recognizes the importance of extending energy access to remote and off-grid areas. Off-grid solar applications, such as solar-powered street lights, solar water pumps, and solar home lighting systems, are deployed to improve energy access in underserved regions.

3. Solar Rooftop Systems

JNNSM promotes the installation of solar rooftop systems on residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. Rooftop solar not only helps reduce the burden on the grid but also enables consumers to generate their own clean energy and even sell surplus power to the grid.

4. Research and Development

To drive innovation and technological advancements, JNNSM allocates resources for research and development projects in the solar energy sector. This component aims to enhance the efficiency and affordability of solar technologies.


2. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM):

PM-KUSUM is a flagship program launched by the Government of India to promote the use of renewable energy, specifically solar power, in the agricultural sector. It was introduced to address multiple issues faced by farmers, including rising diesel and electricity costs for irrigation purposes and the need for sustainable energy solutions. The program falls under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and aims to enhance farmers' income, reduce carbon emissions, and ensure energy security for the country.

This scheme, launched in 2019, targeted farmers by encouraging the installation of solar pumps and solarization of agricultural grid-connected pumps. The scheme aimed to help farmers generate income by selling excess power back to the grid and reducing their dependence on diesel-powered pumps

Under component A, Grid-Connected Solar Power Plants, farmers are encouraged to set up grid-connected solar power plants on their lands. The surplus energy generated by these plants can be sold back to the grid, earning farmers a stable source of income.


Whom to Contact

Official Website

Implementing Agencies

Vendors and rates of the standalone solar pump


3. Solar Rooftop Subsidy Schemes

Various state governments and central agencies introduced subsidy schemes to promote rooftop solar installations. These schemes offered financial incentives to individuals, institutions, and industries for setting up solar panels on their rooftops.

1. Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)

As mentioned earlier, JNNSM plays a significant role in promoting solar energy in India. These subsidies are designed to reduce the upfront costs of installing solar rooftop systems.

2. MNRE Scheme for Rooftop Solar Power Projects

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has launched a subsidy scheme for grid-connected rooftop solar power projects. The scheme provides financial assistance to residential and institutional consumers for installing solar panels on their rooftops.

3. State-Level Subsidy Schemes

Apart from central government schemes, several states in India have also launched their own subsidy programs to promote solar rooftop installations. State governments offer varying levels of financial incentives and support to encourage residents and businesses to adopt solar energy.

4. Net Metering Policies

In addition to direct subsidies, net metering policies are in place in many states. Net metering allows consumers to sell excess solar power generated by their rooftop systems back to the grid. This results in additional savings and revenue generation for consumers.


Whom to Contact

  1. The contact details of DISCOMs Officials https://solarrooftop.gov.in/grid_others/discomPortalLink

  2. Technical Support: itsupport-mnre@nic.in

  3. For more information: rts-mnre@gov.in


4. Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY)

Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY) is a visionary scheme launched by the Government of India to bring sustainable and reliable lighting solutions to rural areas through the installation of solar street lights. The program is named after the former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to honour his commitment to rural development and energy conservation.

Launched in 2018, the AJAY scheme aimed to provide solar energy access to remote and un-electrified areas in the country. The scheme distributed solar power packs with LED lights, solar fans, and solar streetlights to households and public institutions in these areas.

The objective of the scheme is to provide ‘Solar Street Lighting Systems’ for public use, demonstration, and replication, which will help in popularizing solar energy in a big way. Under AJAY Phase-I and II, EESL has installed over 2.72 lakh Solar LED street lights in rural areas.



Solar Street Lighting Systems (https://eeslindia.org/en/atal-jyoti-yojana/)
Solar Street Lighting Systems (https://eeslindia.org/en/atal-jyoti-yojana/)

5. Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects

Solar parks are dedicated areas or regions with abundant solar resources that are developed specifically for large-scale solar power projects. These parks provide the necessary infrastructure, such as land, transmission facilities, and access to resources, to facilitate the development of solar projects. Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects are large-scale solar installations with a capacity of multiple hundred megawatts, each helping to reduce the emissions causing climate change.

1. Solar Park Scheme

The Solar Park Scheme was launched by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in 2014. Under this scheme, the government aimed to facilitate the development of large-scale solar parks across the country. The key objectives of the scheme were to provide the necessary infrastructure, such as land and transmission facilities, to attract private investment and fast-track the deployment of solar projects.

2. Solar Power Projects under National Solar Mission (NSM)

UMREPP is an extension of the Solar Park Scheme, which was launched in 2016. These parks focus not only on solar energy but also on other renewable energy sources like wind, biomass, and hydropower. The government designated certain areas with abundant renewable energy potential as UMREPP sites to encourage the development of large-scale renewable energy projects.

3. Solar Power Projects under National Solar Mission (NSM)

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) was launched in 2010, and it played a pivotal role in promoting solar energy in India. The mission aimed to achieve 20 GW of grid-connected solar power capacity by 2022. As part of the mission, various solar power projects, including Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects, were auctioned to private developers through competitive bidding.

4. Reverse Auctions for Solar Projects

The government adopted a reverse auction mechanism for awarding solar power projects, including Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects and those within solar parks. Through this process, developers were invited to bid with the lowest tariffs for electricity generation. The reverse auction system helped in achieving record-low solar power tariffs and ensured a competitive environment for project development.

5. National Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI)

SECI is a government-owned company responsible for implementing various solar and renewable energy schemes in the country. It plays a crucial role in the development of Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects and solar parks by conducting auctions and facilitating the procurement of solar power from these projects.


Whom to Contact

  1. Advisor (NSM), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Email: dilipnigam@nic.in

  2. Managing Director, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), 6th Floor, Plate-B, NBCC Office Block Tower-2, East Kidwai Nagar, New Delhi-110023, Email: md@seci.co.in

6. Green Energy Corridors

Green Energy Corridors is a significant infrastructure project undertaken by the Indian government to strengthen the transmission and distribution infrastructure for renewable energy, including solar and wind power. The project aims to facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources into the national grid, improve energy security, and enhance the utilization of green power generated across the country. Some of the projects are as follows:


1. Inter-State Transmission System (ISTS) for Renewable Energy

This scheme aims to establish dedicated transmission corridors to facilitate the transfer of renewable energy from states with abundant renewable resources to power-deficit regions. The ISTS for Renewable Energy helps to minimize transmission losses and ensures the efficient evacuation of renewable power across long distances.


2. Green Energy Corridor (GEC) - I and GEC - II

The Green Energy Corridor initiative consists of multiple phases, GEC-I and GEC-II being significant components. GEC-I focused on strengthening the transmission infrastructure in states with high solar and wind energy potential, while GEC-II extended the initiative to other regions with untapped renewable energy sources, such as hydropower in northeastern states.


3. North Eastern Region Strengthening Scheme (NERSS)

This scheme aims to improve the power transmission system in the northeastern states to support the evacuation and utilization of renewable energy, especially hydropower, from this region.


4. Power System Development Fund (PSDF)

The Power System Development Fund was established to provide financial support for the development of transmission infrastructure under the Green Energy Corridors project.


5. Renewable Energy Management Centers (REMCs)

The establishment of Renewable Energy Management Centers is a key component of the Green Energy Corridors initiative. These centres serve as control centres to monitor and manage the integration of renewable energy into the grid, ensuring grid stability and effective utilization of renewable power.

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