Bridge India

Why the Indian solar market is exciting and dynamic

Is the Indian solar market finally going to live up to its huge promise? I have hopes that it will. The new government has made all the right “noises”. It wants to embed solar firmly within a larger energy strategy for the country. The new Power Minister, Piyush Goyal, wants to take his cue from China, currently the world’s largest solar market. At the same time (and predictably) power tariffs have been hiked by as much as 30% in some states. And the cost of solar is falling again. All this is great news. The only concern is the possible imposition of anti-dumping duties. However, several ministers have already spoken out against them. Perhaps they will be dropped.

  • We strive to bring transparency to the market to help it grow
  • We believe in the vast long term potential of the market and in its importance to India
  • Please give us your feedback on our coverage

At BRIDGE TO INDIA, we strive to provide you with the information and analysis you need to navigate the Indian solar market. We do this through our reports, through regular blog pieces and our weekly newsletter. Through the various publications, we estimate that we reach about 80% of professionals in the Indian solar market. Our goal is to help create a functioning market for solar in India – and we have witnessed it coming a long way since we started covering it in 2010. These are exciting times. Everything is changing: India, the energy system, business models, development models and (unfortunately) also the climate. We, too, have to change and improve. For that reason, I am reaching out to you. If you can spare 15 minutes, it would be wonderful to have your feedback on our publications. Are we relevant and timely and analytical enough? Have we missed something or made a mistake? How can we do better?

Please give us your feedback

Since 2010, India has built a solar capacity of over 2.5 GW. Like in many other rapidly growing markets, there have been teething issues. A number of plants under-perform. To bring more transparency to the market, we have launched a new series of India Solar Case Studies, starting with a 36 MWp plant in Rajasthan. The case studies can help future developers make better decisions with respect to location, EPC, technology and maintenance. And there are many more projects to be built in India. To visualize that, we have created an India Solar Map showing the potential of solar in India. It is virtually limitless: Using 0.5% of its land or half the desert district of Barmer, India could build 1,000 GW of solar power, enough to generate 1.5 times the current electricity demand. This is, of course, a thought experiment. The reality would look different, with solar plants spread across the country.

Yet, it is important to know, that solar can play a very central role in India’s future power strategy. How solar is growing every day, what the policies and the projects are, is documented in our new editions of the India Solar Compass and the India Solar Handbook. They should give you the data and information on the market you need. Both publications have been entirely re-worked to make them more concise and useful to you.

In our blogs, we have covered a lot of ground. I invite you to browse our blog website. We looked at a number of solar policies, at the challenges for utilities and at business models around e.g. solar irrigation pumps. The focus in the last weeks was on two issues: the first was, of course, the new BJP government that has been voted into power with a majority in parliament. Subsequently, there have been many very encouraging statements for the solar market in India. We have covered them in some detail. On the other hand, there is the threat of an imposition of anti-dumping duties. We have taken a strong stance against them, because we are convinced that they would set the market back by two years. That would be a great loss. It would put many Indian solar companies out of business and would make solar power a distant dream for millions of consumers.

In the coming months, we are looking forward to presenting a number of thought leadership reports on the future of solar in India. There is a growing consensus that solar goals can be more ambitious than the current 20 GW of the NSM. 100 GW is quite feasible. But in what manner? Centralized or distributed? We compare different scenarios: building GW-scale “mega” projects, MW-scale projects, commercial rooftop projects or residential systems. We look at the landed cost of power, at infrastructure requirements, at job creation and at ecosystem effects. In a second report, we look at the technical challenges for the grid operators in integrating significant distributed renewable sources in a specific geographical area: How to ensure stability and safety? How can an uninterrupted supply be guaranteed? What are the lessons from countries which already have a high renewable energy penetration? A third report focuses on what solar can contribute to improving the power supply in the city of Patna. This will be along the lines of our analysis from last year on converting Delhi into a solar city.

The best way for you to stay up to date with our publications and the Indian solar market is through our weekly newsletter. You can subscribe to it on our homepage. Also, we will be presenting you the BRIDGE TO INDIA website in a completely new and improved design that will hopefully make it even easier for you to access our content. As a valued reader, I ask you to please share your feedback with us.

Please give us your feedback

Tobias Engelmeier is the Director and Founder at BRIDGE TO INDIA. Twitter: @TEngelmeier

3 comments

  • Though we all agree that the Indian market is in its early stages, don’t you think its approach to commercial and residential segments needs to be different? Currently project developers/installers are trying to woo both the aforementioned segments on basis of cost. But that is not how they work, do they?

    While a commercial customer looks at numbers like IRR, NPV etc. how many times have we seen a residential customer care for those things? Otherwise no one would buy a car in the right frame of their mind 😀 And I know people who have bought super expensive mobile phones on credit !

    I think there is some major ‘marketing’ missing in marketing the solar for residential customers. If that is the case do you really see people going solar (and use it) if the government simply provides some ‘tax-benefits’?

  • I would like to convey that unless we have PV industries right from its beginning of its value chain which I mean – right from production of silicon to module it would be difficult to meet the needs in respect of cost. It may be noted that the demand for cells is more than the installed manufacturing capacity. It is for this reason that we are finding that it is much cheaper to import cells or module. More so that that there is strong lobbying for the import of cells / module. Also thin film modules have dominated to the tune of 70 % in comparison to the crystalline modules for the reason of cost and also cost of lending. It is for this reason that our PV industry (Crystalline) is suffering. Also it has been noticed that few are giving cognizance for the quality workmanship / installation standards be it the on grid / off-grid.

  • Bridge to India is doing a great job in disseminating solar related information.

    Just an idea, if Government gives Solar subsidy on panels (at source) rather than on power plant, of say rs 30/ per watt, which are directly responsible for solar power generation, It will lead to lot of simplification and innovative uses and stop pilferage of subsidy.