By Meghaa Gangahar
In 2015, the Indian government unveiled its ambitious target of achieving a capacity of 100,000 MW in solar power generation by 2022.
[su_pullquote]However, a cause of concern now stems from the fact that only 19% of the target for 2016-17 was met by the end of 2016.[/su_pullquote]
The government intends to pursue its target by setting up yearly and cumulative targets. The cumulative target of 5,000 MW for 2015-16 was exceeded by an ultimate capacity of 6762.85 MW – sparking positive expectations from the project. However, a cause of concern now stems from the fact that only 19% of the target for 2016-17 was met by the end of 2016.
The government still holds and reiterates its confidence in achieving the target in the given timeline. A draft report provided by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) supports this opinion. The report dismisses the requirement for any new fossil-fuel based power plants; placing the faith entirely on the renewable energy sector.
A recent development was marked by the India-Japan Energy Forum in 2017- highlighting a bilateral exchange for mutual energy benefit. This positive exchange encourages the inflow of Japanese technology and engineering techniques to facilitate domestic production of solar technology while lowering costs.
Most of the capacity will be generated in the form of rooftop solar energy and large-scale renewable energy plants connected to Indias national electricity grid. Adhering to the commitment made in the Paris Agreement, meeting the target is necessary for India to bolster its pledge to reduce global warming. However, this uphill battle is turning out to be steeper than expected.
Is this slated to fail?
Developers are ready to create more solar and wind energy than financiers are willing to commit to. However, financing projects remain the biggest obstacle. Since solar energy production is capital intensive, a higher cost will drive up the cost of debt and equity for capital expenditure. Even though the costs for production of solar energy have considerably reduced, they still remain considerably above coal-powered energy.
Unless there is a cost incentive, the shift to renewable energy will remain constrained.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]The solar parks remain incomplete, the electricity grid unequipped – to handle the intermittent solar power supply. [/su_pullquote]
The lack of proper infrastructure is another challenge. The solar parks remain incomplete, the electricity grid unequipped – to handle the intermittent solar power supply. Essentially, there is a dire need to speed up the execution and encourage massive investments in new transmission and grid infrastructure.
In the global picture, China – so far the largest investor in clean energy – has cut down its solar targets. Among the developed nations, the US and the UK have been achieving cost slumps in solar energy production; while developing ones such as Jordan have engaged in new solar projects.
Overall, the global capacity is ever-increasing and cost constantly falling. The charged efforts which were given momentum by the overwhelming target have had positive spill-overs in goodwill. The evidence is reflected in increased awareness among consumers about the applicability and virtues of renewable energy. Even though this may increase adoption of solar energy on a small scale, the analysis still holds the larger target to be quite unrealistic.