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Solar in India: Looking at Sunnier Days Ahead

Jun 25, 2018 | India

The most asked question in the solar energy trade has been – does it yield more energy in brighter regions? In UK in 2011, when the solar market took off, most of the people were bothered about this only

Well, to be factual, a kilowatt installed in any region nearer to equator will yield double the amount of energy of any kilowatt installed in brightest area of Britain can yield. But Britain’s solar market particularly have been experiencing quite a sunny time.

The UK government, in 2014, declared that the EIS and VCT funds cannot be used in solar anymore. This led to the opportunity for the funds to be invested in overseas project for a year more.

But for these type of projects weather is not the only factor to be concerned about. For example, one needs to be conscious about the government policies and political trends that affect the market.

Also concerns like how much it can cost to raise funds or how the investor’s money can be repatriated? Of course, how well the plant can do in extreme weathers!

 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and French President Emmanuel Macron visit a solar power plant in Mirzapur, India, on March 12. (Ludovic Marin / AFP/Getty Images)

India: a closer look

India is rich in solar resource. The records of delivered projects so far are good too. The government has been active in strengthening the development of solar energy as a solution to growing environmental challenges.

However, in UK, there have been times when the government’s aspiration and the policies make solar flourish were plies apart. This in fact has compelled some solar industry veterans to call last year’s experience, ‘solarcoaster’.

But for India so far, if examined closely, the positives are in the heavy side. One, the government have been adopting investment friendly policies attracting foreign i investments. Two, it had been active in tackling corruption.

Challenges

With experience in solar and understanding of investments in India one can hope to get a solid start in the flourishing Indian solar market. But there are factors, of course, which should concern any investor.

One of biggest and basest hurdle is finding land for project. India doesn’t have many large land owners like UK. Instead the land in India is divided into small plots to multiple individual owners. Hence, finding a land ensues at tedious process of assembling land from multiple owners. The grid operates too can be bit difficult to deal with but that varies from state to state. The operators are allowed to sell electricity to customers as they are not always well capitalized.

One bright side for UK investors in India can be that India has similar voltage and design characteristics like the UK network. This makes the design process more straightforward. What makes India different than UK is the weather. For India, the range varies from long dry spells to incessant monsoons with localized cyclones.

The recent major changes in economic policies and systems, especially the demonetization and GST implementation, have affected the solar markets initially. But the changes are to stabilize the economy and benefit investors at the end and it can surely be said that the benefits reflected in the GDP growth of the latest quarter.

The Future

India has a promising, in fact luring solar market to sustain and grow. Quarter of India’s total population of 1.2 billion has limited access to electricity. The government lately has been fostering energy access for the mass as a leading agenda. In a very brief period India has emerged in the global solar market as a significant player sieving in overseas formidable investments and spearheading the International Solar Alliance launch.

Considering the rapid adoption it can be hoped that the cost solar power can be lowest of all other energy resources shortly.

 

An Indian worker checks photovoltaic panels at the solar park in Pavagada (Manjunath Kiran / AFP/Getty Images)

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