In a country like India where there is still shortage of power, solar energy can prove to be a feasible alternative source of power.
West Bengal is one of biggest power consuming states in the country but it is still heavily dependent on conventional energy sources. As per the Annual Report of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) 2018-2019, the total installed solar power capacity of West Bengal as on March 31, 2019 was 75.79 Megawatt (MW) which was only 0.266% of India’s total solar power installed capacity (28,464.17 MW).
Major causes of poor performance
The growth in the sector has been sluggish despite a few initiatives taken by the state government to increase solar energy production. Joy Chakraborty, Division Engineer, West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA), informed BE, “There are three main challenges of solar energy production in West Bengal. First, West Bengal is a densely populated state where there is an acute shortage of land to establish solar parks for solar energy generation. Second, the intensity of heat known as solar radiation is far less in West Bengal compared to Rajasthan, Gujarat, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Third, West Bengal has easy availability of coal from which electricity can be produced at cheaper prices.”
However, Shweta Jaju, Head of Communications Department, ONergy Solar, said, “The primary reason for West Bengal’s backwardness in this area has been the absence of a state wide plan to increase solar energy production. Of course, land shortage has been another big reason.”
Initiatives taken by the state government
West Bengal introduced its renewal energy policy in 2012 to promote and facilitate the growth of generation of electricity from renewable energy sources by way of optimum utilisation of the Renewable Energy (RE) potential in the state. Chakraborty added, “The West Bengal government is propagating solar power both in rooftop and ground mounted modes by utilising state and central government funds. Through such measures, West Bengal has reached to 63 MW in rooftop mode as on April, 2019 which was only 2 MW in 2012 when the policy was declared.” Another way of increasing solar energy production is to reduce the dependence on non-renewable energy sources and creating adequate competition in this area.
Jaju explained, “After the new policy of 2012, the level of competition has marginally increased. Four state run organisations namely, West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL), West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL), West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) and West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Limited (WBGEDCL) have been assigned with the task of increasing solar energy production in the state. Apart from the government organisations, some private companies like Vikram Solar, Websol, Modern solar, ONergy Solar, Tejas Vidhyut, Enfied Solar and Senergy are also giving tough competition. Thus, we can say that some improvement has taken place.”
Leading states in solar energy in India
As per the Annual Report of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) 2018-2019, Karnataka tops the solar energy production in India with an installed solar power capacity of 6,095.56 MW as ON March 31, 2019. Given below is a list of top solar energy producing states in India:
Installed solar power capacity
Rank inName of 31st December31st March
India states 2017 2019
1 Karnataka 1,800.85 6,095.56
2 Telangana 2,990.07 3,592.09
3 Rajasthan 2,310.46 3,226.79
4 Andhra Pradesh 2,165.21 3,085.68
5 Tamil Nadu 1,819.42 2,575.22
6 Gujarat1,344.69 2,440.13
7 Madhya Pradesh 1,210.11 1,840.16