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Time to side with solar energy

  • It is important to note that not long ago, solar energy was considered to be expensive and not investment-friendly. It has taken India a long time to realise that going forward, solar energy is going to be of utmost importance if it were to realise the goals of renewable energy. Recently, Union Energy Minister Piyush Goyal stated that the Central government will provide Rs 1,800 crore to IIT-Mumbai for supporting the Solar Urja Lamp (Soul) programme. The prices of solar energy have fallen to an extent that it is now challenging coal to be a much more viable source of energy. If solar remains cheaper than coal, India should actually consider making the former as the prime source of energy generation. This would further India’s commitment towards renewable source of energy generation and will prove to be a reliable source for 250 million people who have no access to electricity. The World Bank recently approved funding worth $1 billion for power projects in India. In order to provide the funding, the World Bank has tied up with the State Bank of India. This comes following the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making power available to all citizens. This is the biggest solar aid ever to be lent to any country. The main purpose of the funding is to start rooftop solar projects which will make power accessible even in the most remote villages. The capacity targeted thro-ugh this rooftop project is 400 megawatts (MW). The World Bank has also signed an agreement with the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The alliance was spearheaded by India and France during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in 2015. The aim of the alliance was to mobilise investment in order to set up infrastructure for solar energy generation. The target is to channelise around $1 trillion-worth of investment by 2030. In the 2015-16 budget, a sum of Rs 2,700 crore (between $400 and $500 million) was allocated for energy generation through solar energy. As of May 2016, solar energy capacity in India was 7,568 MW and the target set for 2022 is 100 gigawatts (GW), that is 1,00,000 MW. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to restrict the global increase in the temperature to below 2 degree Celsius. This deal is a result of consistent effort by the international community to have an international agreement on climate change. Article 2 of the Paris Agreement clearly states that it aims at “making global finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse-gas emissions and climate resilient development.” According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), in the last three years, the renewable energy sector has received over $14 billion worth of investment. Of this, the solar energy sector has got around $4.5 billion.

  • Even after signing the Paris Agreement, India has aimed to double the energy production from coal by 2020. As against this, recently, Maharashtra showed a positive sign towards clean energy as it turned to solar power in order to provide energy to farmers at subsidised rates. Goyal has been an advocate of supporting clean energy, provided it is funded by the developed countries. India’s main aim has been to ensure that there is a balance between guaranteeing efficient clean energy generation as well as development goals. On the basis of current resources, it is ambitious. A major part of investment has been allocated through the Budget. The 2016 Budget approved generation of around 14 GW of solar energy. India has pledged that it will be generating around 40% of its energy through renewable sources by 2030. In 2010, the government launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. The objective of the Mission had been to make India a leader among the international community in the field of solar energy. The Mission had set up a target of 20 GW of solar power by 2022. This particular target was later increased to 100 GW in the 2015 Union Budget. One of the most important things to keep in mind while setting targets is that in 2014, the world’s installed solar energy capacity was 181 GW. According to the World Health Organisation, 22 of the 50 urban areas with worst ambient air pollution are in India. Balancing the growth as well as climate change commitments is a priority. The solar energy generation projects are bound to contribute to new employment opportunities and lead India’s march towards its globally set targets. In 2005, the government-funded generation was about 6 MW. India is making big strides towards renewable energy generation and as a result, a lot of villages will be able to use electricity for the first time.

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