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India’s Solar Power Energy- UPSC Current Affairs

Apr 20, 2022


In today’s edition of our Current Affairs Dialog box, we will discuss the India’s Solar Power Energy and its relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus. Enhance your UPSC exam preparation with this detailed article.

For Prelims: Schemes and Programmes for Achieving Renewable Energy Target.

For Mains: India's achievements in renewable energy sector, India's renewables energy targets, challenges and initiatives taken to achieve it.

Here is the link to yesterday’s edition of Current Affairs, in case you missed it.

Why in the News?

  • Recently, a report prepared by JMK Research, and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said that India is projected to fall "well short" of its target for 2022 of having 100 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity.
    • This is largely due to slow uptake of rooftop solar.

Probable Question

Discuss the current state of India’s Solar Sector. How critical is solar power to India’s commitment to mitigate climate change?

source of renewable energy

Image Source: Scroll

Key Points

Background: India’s Solar Policy

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), also known as the National Solar Mission (NSM) was commenced in January 2010.
  • It marked the first time the government focused on promoting and developing solar power in India.
  • Under the scheme, the total installed capacity target was set as 20 GW by 2022. 
  • In 2015, the target was revised to 100 GW and in August 2021, the government set a solar target of 300 GW by 2030.
  • Since 2011, India’s solar sector has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 59% from 0.5 GW in 2011 to 55 GW in 2021.

Current State of India Solar Power Capacity

  • India currently ranks fifth after China, U.S., Japan and Germany in terms of installed solar power capacity.
  • As of December 2021, the cumulative solar installed capacity of India is 55 GW, which is roughly half the renewable energy (RE) capacity (excluding large hydro power) and 14% of the overall power generation capacity of India.
  • Within the 55 GW, grid-connected utility-scale projects contribute 77% and the rest comes from grid-connected rooftop and off-grid projects.

What does the Report say?

  • As of April, only about 50% of the 100GW target, consisting of 60GW of utility-scale and 40GW of rooftop solar capacity, has been met.
  • Nearly 19 GW of solar capacity is expected to be added in 2022 — 8GW from utility-scale and 3.5GW from rooftop solar.
  • Even accounting for this capacity would mean about 27% of India’s 100GW solar target would remain unmet, according to the report.
  • A 25GW shortfall in the 40GW rooftop solar target, is expected compared to 1.8GW in the utility-scale solar target by December 2022.
  • Thus, it is in rooftop solar that the challenges of India’s solar-adoption policy stick out.
About India Grid-connected Rooftop Solar Programme:

In December 2015, the government launched the first phase of the grid-connected rooftop solar programme to incentivize its use in residential, institutional and social areas.

The second phase, approved in February 2019, had a target of 40GW of cumulative rooftop solar capacity by 2022, with incentives in the form of central financial assistance (CFA).

As of November 2021, of the phase 2 target of 4GW set for the residential sector, only 1.1GW had been installed.

Reasons for Rooftop Solar Adoption not Meeting Targets

The disruption in supply chains due to the pandemic was a key impediment to rooftop solar adoption.

  • Pandemic-induced supply chain disruption to policy restrictions,
  • Regulatory roadblocks
  • lack of consumer awareness, inconsistent policy frameworks of the Centre/ State governments and financing.
  • Limits to net-metering (or paying users who give back surplus electricity to the grid);
  • Taxes on imported cells and modules,
  • Unsigned power supply agreements (PSAs) and banking restrictions;
  • Financing issues plus delays in or rejection of open access approval grants; and
  • The unpredictability of future open access charges.

Accelerate your UPSC CSE preparation with a detailed video on Various Reports by World Bank by our Current Affairs faculty, Prem Sodhani sir:


Current State of Solar Rooftop Progress

  • Recently, however, there has been a sharp rise in rooftop solar installations due to falling technology costs, increasing grid tariffs, rising consumer awareness and the growing need for cutting energy costs.
  • These factors are expected to persist giving a much-needed boost to this segment.
  • Going ahead, rooftop solar adoption is expected to proportionally increase as land and grid-connectivity for utility solar projects are expected to be hard to come by.

How important is Solar Power to India's Commitment to Climate Change Mitigation?

  • Solar power is a major prong of India’s commitment to address global warming according to the terms of the Paris Agreement, as well as achieving net zero carbon emissions, by 2070.
  • PM Modi at the United Nations Conference of Parties meeting in Glasgow, in November 2021, said that India would be reaching a non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030 and meet half its energy requirements via renewable energy by 2030.
  • To boost the renewable energy installation drive in the long term, the Centre in 2020 set a target of 450GW of RE-based installed capacity to be achieved by 2030, within which the target for solar was 300GW.
  • According to the report, given the challenge of integrating variable renewable energy into the grid, most of the RE capacity installed in the latter half of this decade is likely to be based on wind solar hybrid (WSH), RE-plus-storage and round-the-clock RE projects rather than traditional solar/wind projects.
  • On the current trajectory, the report finds, India’s solar target of 300GW by 2030 will be off the mark by about 86GW, or nearly a third.

Way Forward

The report proposes short- and long-term measures to get India back on track to meet solar targets.

  • Short term Measures:
    • Uniform policies to apply nationally for at least the next five years and 
    • Consistent regulations for net metering and banking facilities should also apply nationally.
  • Long term Measures:
    • Stricter enforcement of the renewable purchase obligation and 
    • Improved financial health, and 
    • Potentially privatization, of distribution companies (DISCOMs).
  • In rooftop solar, state-level efforts such as Gujarat's Surya Scheme need to be replicated by other states in the short-term to help in boosting capacity.

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