Will Solar become the primary source of energy in India replacing Coal?
The growth in the Solar Sector in India has been tremendous in the last decade. The number of solar installations has risen from less than 1 MW to 16 GW in the year 2017. This is a 15,000% increase in the solar sector, with major solar installations of capacities of 3 GW and 5 GW being added in the years 2015–16 and 2016–17 respectively. With the rise in falling tariffs, we have seen Solar tariffs falling lower than Coal, latter being the primary source of energy in India today. The tariff of Solar is Rs 2.62 per kWh for large scale projects as compared to the tariff of Coal at Rs 3.20 per kWh.
The share of renewable energy in the power generation is 17.5% whereas coal remains the major source at 58.3%. One third the capacity of Coal based power plants are now generated from Renewable energy. As we progress in the renewable sector, our aim is to electrify the 240 million people who do not have access to electricity.
India falls in the 300+ days of sunshine every year. A day with 5 hours of uninterrupted sunshine will power your home for a month, reducing your electricity bills by 95%. As coal based power plants are slowly being decommissioned, the shift towards Solar being the major source of energy is unclouded.
India’s total energy consumption was 1,421 TWh in 2016, for a population of 1.2 billion. The total installed capacity of Solar energy, uses only 0.00005% of total land area of India. Putting the area in scale, the solar capacity to generate enough power to run the country, we require land equivalent to the area of Sundarbans or 4 times the land area of Goa.
Considering the land required for Agriculture, we can install Solar Plants on Rooftops, saving space and erecting net-zero energy buildings, leading to a sustainable city.
What if our roof becomes the only free space available when there is no more land for construction? Food for thought.