By Aditya Kumar Gupta
The world is on the brink of a collapse. Reserves of petroleum or coal are on the verge of extinction, and there is a dire need for renewable sources of energy. Additionally, another area of concern is the protection of the environment. Climate change needs to be dealt with quickly so that the future generations can enjoy the perks of life as well as the current generation does. Renewable energy sources do serve to provide this benefit. The largest source of all is solar energy. The sun is the provider of all life on the earth and more importantly, this source of energy is widely abundant.
Solar energy has been widely used over the last few years. India’s ‘Make in India’ campaign launched the National Solar Mission for the promotion of solar power in the country. Numerous villages have been electrified through solar panelling of the roofs of houses, providing such families with electricity. The best thing about solar energy is its cheap value; studies have revealed that solar power tariffs are even lower than that paid by NTPC.
Vision of the mission
The National Solar Mission aims to maintain a capacity of 100,000 MW by 2022. This involves a large-scale production of solar panels—a demand which is clearly not being met. Therefore, measures are being adopted to import panels from foreign nations like China, where such panels are incredibly cheaper due to subsidies and economies of scale. 70% of global solar panels are Chinese; hence, it has a huge amount of control over the market. However, we need to focus on the promotion of economic growth in India. Therefore, reliance on imports may not be a favourable step.
Challenges to implementation
Solar power has a huge practical benefit in a country like India. Adoption of rooftop plants has already been taken care of; however, it suffers from major drawbacks. A large number of villages report that the maintenance and repair of these panels have not been undertaken. This has led to defaults in function and a huge source of discomfort for the homeowners, as they are disconnected from electricity. Apart from production, after-sales service is of equal importance in order to ensure the goal of this mission. Besides poor maintenance, the cost of application keeps users fixated on the path of regular subsidised electricity. If such a medium is to be implemented, the interests of the poorer sections must be kept in mind and consequently, the rates should be subsidised so the benefits can be readily availed.
India can draw inspiration from numerous examples of solar power collection. France has a road lain with solar cells. Although the model is still under development, it can immensely benefit India if implemented properly, due to a massive cover of roads in the country. Yet again, timely maintenance is essential to utilise it as an effective solution. Rooftop solar panelling of homes is a form of self-sufficiency for the owners at a rather small scale. Implementing this scheme for commercial buildings like shopping malls and offices is an avenue where huge amounts of electricity can be saved. As such, buildings have a huge infrastructure which possesses the potential to be run of 100% solar power. With a large and developing economy, electricity is an essential commodity. Hence, there is a dire need for us to tap solar energy in order to sustain the industries of the future.
As previously mentioned, imports are generally procured from China to meet the majority of the solar panel demand in the market. This, unfortunately, threatens the Indian producers to move out of business. In order to protect the interest of the Indian producers, an import duty of 7.5% is being placed on the import of solar panels from any foreign nation. This aims to reduce the competition for Indian producers, serving as an impetus for production.
Big and small producers
TATA has been one of the largest producers in India. Being such a large manufacturer, with massive resources, there is virtually no need for any support to be given. However, the production should be incentivised in order to promote greater production of goods. Merely supplying the solar energy at cheaper rates won’t do much good if there aren’t corresponding panels to facilitate its production.
The major issue lies with the small and medium scale producers who cannot compete with the large brands in the market. However, there seems to be no solution to this problem as well. A scheme should be developed through which small producers, producing whatever quantity, can supply to a large entity after having met certain requirement standards. This way, every producer is given the opportunity to produce without having to directly compete with the remainder of the market. Efficient production and a decent incentive system are enough to sustain such a model.
A dream to be achieved
Solar power is the imminent road to the future. Over time, the efficiency of the panels has tremendously gone up, along with a fall in their prices. There has been an increased adoption of such methods of power collection due to the strengthening moral compass of the population with respect to preservation of non-renewable resources as well as combating pollution. India is an incredibly large market which can benefit from the implementation of solar power. The National Solar Mission is a beautiful scheme encompassing the issues of unemployment along with environmental preservation, all under one head. Therefore, every possible effort should be made to accomplish the goals of this initiative. Although there exist severe lags, they can be overcome with joint effort. New models and incentive schemes are bound to cover up for this backlog and combat international competition as well. This mission is a dream which can soon be turned into reality.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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