The Indian government has focused heavily on renewable power. It is initiating policies to promote renewable power generation and such efforts have led to a widespread acceptance of solar energy and have also led to significant development of solar technology. BE’s Rohit Prasad spoke to Krishnendu Mukherjee, Chief Operating Officer, Sova Power Limited, on the scope of the renewable power sector and his company’s growth model.
Q) How can solar power be made cost effective so that it can be used for household consumption?
A) Project cost is already going down due to various technological developments. There has been a significant decrease in the cost of production of around 25% since 2010-2011. With so much ongoing research, it is expected that the cost will decrease by 50% by 2022.
Q) Has there been a rise in solar power usage in the last five years? Kindly elucidate with reasons.
A) Various technological advancements throughout the world and heightened installations of solar power cells have accelerated the penetration of solar power. In India, solar power increased from 12 GW in the year 2012 to around 90 GW in 2017. The Indian government has focused heavily on rooftop projects and utility scale power plants. It has also focused on ensuring 100 GW coverage by 2022. Last year, the government initiated projects of around 6 to 7 GW and this year, it has shot up to around 9 to 10GW.
Q) Can solar street lighting be implemented in a major way? What have been the initiatives in this regard?
A) Solar street lights were the initial achievements of this sector. Now, bigger solar power plants are being connected to the grid and are poised to supplement the main conventional power system.
Q) What kind of solar power products do you offer? Who are your clients?
A) Our Polycrystalline Solar PV Module is identifiable by its distinctive light or dark blue colour. Designed for end-users, our high temperature-tolerant, less-expensive products involve simple manufacturing processes and generate more electricity than any other modules. Our target clients are the big Engineering Procurement and Commissioning (EPC) players who build power plants for grid supply and also rooftop project builders.
Q) What are the challenges?
A) Technology is constantly evolving. Keeping up with it is a hard task. In future, the disposal of solar panels will become problematic as there is no policy for it. This may cause hazards. Storage of solar power is another problem as it is generated for five hour duration during the daytime. In most of the cases, this is not the peak period for power consumption. This cyclic surge pattern of the solar power generation needs to be balanced with other energy sources. Therefore, better grid management is required. Grid parity that will be aimed at making solar power at par with conventional source of power is also needed and a calibrated approach is needed for this.
But clean energy needs to be promoted as it is carbon neutral. Initial investment and installation charges are high for solar power but running cost is zero and maintenance is minimal. Additionally, solar energy can be harnessed at a micro level. It is now being used in the agricultural sector as well to power irrigation pumps.
Q) Solar power projects require large land holdings. Have you faced any problem related to land acquisition?
A) Acquiring land for setting up solar projects is definitely a significant problem but fortunately, we haven’t faced any such problem as the government was very supportive and accommodating.
Q) How have the governmental policies influenced the sector?
A) The government has already implemented several policies like smart metering, rooftop inceptive schemes and subsidies. The government is trying hard to implement solar power on a large scale. This has prompted heightened private participation in the sector and as a result, solar power has become cost effective and has produced large-scale employment.