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Technological advancements and progressive policies revolutionizing Indian solar industry

The article provides an in-depth exploration of India's solar energy sector, discussing its potential, technological advancements, challenges, government policies, and future prospects.

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DQINDIA Online
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With the fourth largest installed capacity globally and an estimated potential of 7,48,990 MW, solar is a promising sustainable energy option in India. The industry has witnessed mass disruptions in its evolution from nanowire-adorned solar panels to windows that transform light into electricity. However, optimising solar panel efficiency has been a major challenge, with only a small portion of sunlight being converted into useful power in early PV cells. To surmount these challenges, government and industry players are keen on employing innovative technologies responsible for the increased efficiency of solar panels and grids.

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Production and technological capabilities

The domestic solar manufacturing industry plays a vital role in India's infrastructure development, contributing to supply chain resiliency, local manufacturing, and employment creation. The country's solar photovoltaic energy is crucial for achieving renewable energy and net-zero goals.

Research studies suggest that 20.6% Power Conversion Efficiency (PCE) is crucial for solar cell applications. However, India's limited cell capacity of 5.8 GW, primarily due to reliance on imported cells, highlights the challenge of self-sufficiency in solar manufacturing. Technological advancements in solar energy include commercial solar panels with higher efficiencies, phase-out of polycrystalline panels, and the rise of bifacial solar panels.

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Advancements in solar trackers and battery storage systems are also improving efficiency. Despite PERC technology dominating the solar panel market, a shift towards advanced technologies like TOPCon and HJT is underway. Apart from this, new ideas like solar paint, organic photovoltaics, and quantum dot solar cells offer the potential for efficiency and cost reduction. Merging solar energy with nanotechnology and biology also presents new opportunities for innovation.

These developments are crucial for renewable energy and net-zero goals, contributing to supply chain resilience, local manufacturing, and employment.

Challenges before industry players

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India's solar manufacturers face several challenges and still rely heavily on Chinese suppliers for raw materials. Other challenges remain the high investment required for solar module manufacturing and the rapid changes in solar panel technology, which tends to make older technologies obsolete and investors hesitant to embrace the shift from Polycrystalline to Mono PERC to TOPCon. On the other hand, addressing the challenges related to supply chain dependency, financing costs, and compatibility of new technology with older machines is crucial for the further growth of domestic solar manufacturing.

Government policies to unlock opportunities

With ambitious targets and policies like the Production Linked Incentive (PLI), India aims to achieve 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. The Indian government has introduced comprehensive policies and initiatives to boost domestic manufacturing and solidify its position as a solar powerhouse.

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The government of India's Solar Park Scheme aims to establish 50 Solar Parks of 500 MW and above with a cumulative capacity of ~38 GW by 2025-26, attracting investments and fostering a conducive environment for solar power development. Schemes like PM-KUSUM are transforming India's agricultural sector by setting up decentralised solar power plants, replacing agricultural diesel pumps with solar agricultural water pumps, and solarising existing grid-connected agriculture pumps.

Moreover, the Rooftop Solar Programme and Off-grid Solar PV Applications Programme provide subsidies for solar energy accessibility, making them strategic investments in a solar-powered future. Last but not least, the PLI Scheme, which signals a monumental push for domestic manufacturing, is boosting capacity and propelling India into a solar powerhouse.

Way forward  

Solar energy technology is a testament to humankind's continuous pursuit of creativity and invention, bringing us closer to a future powered by renewable resources. In the Union Budget 2023-24, INR 7,327 Cr was allocated for the solar power sector, a 48% increase over the previous year. The solar power sector of the country has an estimated potential of 7,48,990 MW, and it can play a pivotal role in economic development and energy transition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated in 2020 that solar energy will be a major medium of energy needs in the 21st century, as it is sure, pure, and secure.

 By Gautam Mohanka, CEO, Gautam Solar

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