Can India lead the world in harnessing solar energy through rooftop route?

Keeping its commitment to the Paris Agreement, India is aiming to produce 40% of electricity from renewable by 2030 by rapidly decarbonize its energy system. Strategically located on the northern hemisphere India’s 58% of the area (particularly Western and Southern region) receives 5.1/ 5 kWh/m2/day irradiance about 330 days of the year. Riding on huge solar potential(750 GW), India is going to achieve an ambitious target of 100 GW solar power (including 60 GW from utility-scale mega projects and 40 GW grid-connected rooftop solar) in 2022. By harnessing 8 hours of direct sunlight, a typical home solar panel can produce 2320 watts of electric power per day which is sufficient to run domestic appliances. Depending upon the availability of sunlight, space on the rooftop and orientation of panel towards the sun, maximum solar energy can be harnessed by the rooftop solar system.
Types of a solar rooftop system
Depending upon their electricity needs, geographic location and quality of grid infrastructure, consumers can install on the grid or off-grid system. The on-grid system is more suitable for such a geographic location where grid infrastructure is in good condition. Thanks to net metering consumers can sell their excess electricity produced by renewables to the grid. The consumer can also access power from the grid in case of cloud cover during the rainy season. Off-grid systems are more prevalent in remote or hilly or inhospitable terrains where grid infrastructure is in poor condition.
The solar rooftop can be a win-win for both the consumers as well as utility. The utility can better manage their peak loads and reduce dependence on hydrocarbon-based power while the consumer can reduce their electricity bill and earn revenue.
Way ahead
Apart from installing rooftop on home and commercial building, the government can explore an opportunity to install rooftop solar on government buildings, Railway stations, stadiums, and warehouses. As the Gujarat government has installed solar panels on the canal, the Indian government can replicate this pilot to cover entire canal infrastructure thus boost power production and stopped evaporation of irrigation water. Taking the advantages of the latest floating solar panel technology, India can also install the floating solar panel on large water bodies.
India can not only exploit and building resources but also water bodies to tap huge solar potential and lead the world in tapping solar energy. The need for an hour is proactive visionary political leadership which can create an enabling environment and ecosystem to implement this policy aggressively.

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