The subcontinent has 250 to 300 days of sun a year—
producing a potential 700 billion megawatts annually.
India is facing an energy crisis. During peak
hours, the country’s power providers supply about 11 percent less energy than it needs,
according to a 2013 Deloitte report. Making matters worse, India’s coal, which is projected to provide two-thirds of the country’s energy through
2022, is expected to run out in the next 45 years.
To meet consumer and manufacturing needs,
project leaders have sought alternatives, especially
in solar. The subcontinent has 250 to 300 days
of sun a year—producing a potential 700 billion
megawatts (MW) annually.
The outlook for India’s solar sector is sunny, but
there are a few clouds on the horizon.
In January, a consortium of public utility companies announced plans to build what’s billed as the
world’s largest solar plant in Rajasthan. The multiphase project—with the first budgeted at INR75
billion—should be completed by 2022, when the
4,000 MW plant will produce 6. 4 billion kilowatt
hours annually and reduce India’s carbon footprint
by more than 4 million metric tons per year. But
first the project team will have to clear hurdles
associated with land permits. Environmental officials have expressed concern that the proposed
plant layout could encroach on protected wetlands.
As part of an effort to harness photovoltaic
power, India’s government created the Jawaha-
rlal Nehru National Solar Mission in 2010. The
initiative provides funding to solar projects with
a maximum capacity of 750 MW and aims to pro-
vide 20,000 MW of grid-connected solar power
by 2022. Despite the bright outlook, solar will
contribute less than 1 percent of the total energy
produced in India through 2017.
With governmental incentives, however, come
governmental restrictions. The second phase of the
Jawaharlal Nehru Mission specifies that half of all
solar projects must be domestically manufactured,
which has led to high solar cell prices. In April,
U.S. company SunEdison walked away from a proposed 20 MW project in Gujarat, citing the cost of