Importance of Solar Energy in India: An Assessment of Reality and Requirement

Solar energy is emerging as a critical component in India’s energy mix, and for a good reason future of solar energy in India is bright. The country’s growing population (140 crore in 2023) and expanding economy (fifth largest, 6.9% growth expected in 2023) have resulted in a significant increase in energy demand, which adds urgency to replace already depleting, costly, and climate harming fossil fuel sources. Solar energy, which is renewable, abundant, and environmentally friendly, has the potential to provide a sustainable solution to India’s energy needs while reducing the country’s carbon footprint (Expectedly 93,022 tonnes of CO2e per year).

Solar is the answer to India’s ever growing energy demand

The country receives a tremendous amount of sunlight (India receives annual sunshine of 2600 to 3200 hours), making it an ideal location for future of solar energy generation in India. According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, India’s solar power potential is around 748 GW, which is significantly more than the country’s current energy demand (210 GW in 2022 and 229 in 2023 expected). Additionally, solar energy can be harnessed at both large-scale and small-scale levels, making it accessible to rural areas that may not have access to traditional power sources.

Another critical advantage of solar energy is that it is eco-friendly, producing no greenhouse gas emissions or other pollutants, while generating energy. This makes it an ideal solution for addressing India’s growing air pollution problem and climate degradation due to usage of fossil fuels.

Currently we are facing the threshold of irreversible climate change that can change our way of life. The increasing annual temperature due to fossil fuel usage has caused terrible sifts in the weather and is affecting countries with warm climate (Heat waves took 3,500 lives in South Asia in 2015 and claimed over 17,000 lives in last 50 years in India).

The changing climate is resulting as the record decline in monsoon rainfall levels since 1950, floods, frequent droughts, significant fall in crop yield, damaged groundwater resources, falling water table, rising carbon dioxide levels (took more than 8 million lives worldwide in 2021). Global warming due to continued fossil fuel usage is suspected to reduce crop yield, affect quantity of protein in crops, and increase the chances of pandemics and cause world-wide resource and life loss at an unprecedented level. These challenges make solar an immediate requirement and prioritize future scope of solar energy.

One other significant challenge that India is facing is the issue of energy security. The country is heavily dependent on imported oil, which leaves it vulnerable to supply disruptions and price shocks. By developing a robust solar energy sector, India can reduce its dependence on imported oil, enhancing its energy security and reducing its exposure to international energy markets. Additionally, solar energy is less subject to price volatility than traditional energy sources, making it a more stable and predictable source of energy.

Another advantage of solar energy is that it provides significant economic benefits to the country. The development of the future of solar energy in India has the potential to create a vast number of jobs in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the renewable energy sector in India employed around 47,000 people in 2019, a number that is expected to grow significantly as the country ramps up its renewable energy production. Additionally, the development of solar energy can spur innovation and entrepreneurship, creating new opportunities for businesses and startups.

Finally, the development of the future scope of solar energy in India has significant global implications. As one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, India has a critical role to play in the fight against climate change. By developing a robust solar energy sector, India can reduce its carbon footprint and become a global leader in renewable energy production. This, in turn, can encourage other countries to follow suit, accelerating the global transition to a low-carbon economy.