Solar Energy is in a 'Good State' in India


As the sun rises on the solar energy landscape in India, a few states have stolen the limelight. Rajasthan has overtaken Gujarat as the number one solar-powered state in the country, as previously summarized here. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu round out the list of top five states for total solar capacity. The top five states account for 80% of the installed capacity according to MNRE (see figure 1), which underscores the enormous potential for other states to ramp up their own solar policies.

Figure 1. Ranking of states on installed solar capacity. Source: MNRE 2015

States such as Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands have tremendous solar energy potential. As the map of annual global horizontal irradiation (GHI), the kind of sunlight required for solar PV, makes clear - almost every state in India is blessed with high solar potential, especially as compared to Western European countries that have taken the lead in solar PV deployment. Accounting for the different scales in the map in figure 2, it is clear that every part of states such as Tripura has higher annual GHI than anywhere in Germany. Additionally, the cost of conventional power-generation and transmission is very high in several of these states making solar power an even more attractive option.


Figure 2. Indian solar resource in perspective (note the difference in scale). (Click for full-size graphic.) Source: GeoModel Solar

So far, of the 29 states in India, 16 states have announced a state solar policy. While the central government's National Solar Mission and subsidies have played a crucial role in kick starting investments in solar energy, leading states have complemented these with their own solar incentives (as figure 3 makes clear).

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Figure 3. Break-up of installed solar capacity by project type. Source: MNRE 2015.

In the five years since the National Solar Mission was first announced, the total installed solar power generation capacity in India has expanded over 250 times from less than 15 MW in 2010 to just over 4,000 MW as of July, 2015. Even more impressive, the most recent 1,000 MW of capacity has been added in just the last six months. With another 1,700 MW of solar capacity projected to come online in 2015, India has a chance of surpassing Germany and befittingly, if belatedly, joining the global top five countries for new yearly capacity addition. However, given the excellent solar resource, every state in India can potentially compete with the best in the world in deploying solar energy. We will keep you updated on which states take up the challenge.