Clean Solar Energy SDG7: India's Challenges


Climate Change, poor quality of air, loss of life, are pressing issues towards shifting for cleaner and sustainable energy consumption. Thus, worldwide policy makers, and citizens raising demands for clean energy as per UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number 7. Alarming air quality levels in many Indian cities and around the world have highlighted the deteriorating environment, and consequent high cost people are paying through negative impact on their health. In recent surveys by WHO 13 Indian cities are among top 20 cities for poor air quality. Therefore, we need substantive efforts for clean energy implementation. In this regard, Government of India launched National Solar Mission (NSM) in 2010 with a target of 20 GW solar power by the year 2022. But, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an ambitious target of 100,000 MW of solar power capacity to be achieved by 2022. This is a grand challenge as our country generates more than 60 percent of its power by burning coal, and renewable energy amount to only 23.39 % of energy (MNRE).

Cover Photo: Solar power plant on the Banasura Sagar reservoir in Wayanad, Kerala The 500 kWp solar plant of the Kerala state electricity board (KSEB) floats on 1.25 acres of water surface of the reservoir. The solar plant has 1,938 solar panels which have been installed on 18 ferro cement floaters with hollow insides.

Despite these ambitious targets, a significant progress is made towards achievement of solar power (35 GW). Another concern about costs of solar power have come down during the last couple of years, and now in some state below from regular tariffs from coal powered plants.

Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) started several measures and schemes to promote solar energy such as rooftop solar PV plants for rural and hilly areas, net metering systems. Indian government partnered with France government to start International Solar Alliance (ISA) with 120 Nations headquartered in India to promote solar power and its related research. India working on the concept of "One Sun One World one Grid" and "World Solar Bank" to utilize vast solar power globally. The world recorded 178 GW of cumulative installed solar power capacity in 2014 with 40 GW installed in 2014 itself. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) accounts for more than 7 % of the electricity demand in Germany, Italy and Greece. Also, solar PV is the largest employer among renewable energy sector. From 7.7 million direct and indirect jobs in the renewable sector, about 2.5 million came from the solar PV sector alone in 2014 (Ren21, 2015). Thus, MNRE and NISE started various training manpower programs especially Surya Mitra program to train budding Surya Mitra’s.

The Indian Trends of Solar Power

India is continuously making upward progress in terms of solar power capacity achievement

since 2008. In 2008-09 installed capacity was 3 MW that touched 8000 MW (8GW) by July, 2016. India has set a target of 100 GW by 2022, which is divided as: 60 GW of land

mounted grid connected solar power and 40 GW of rooftop grid interactive solar power as following yearly targets from FY 2015-16 to FY 2021-22 as shown in Table1 given below:

Table 1: Grid Connected Targets for Solar Power Installation

MW 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 Total


Solar 200 4800 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 40000



Solar 1800 7200 10000 10000 10000 9500 8500 57000

Total 2000 12000 15000 16000 17000 17500 17500 97000

Source: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), (2015)

Based upon availability of land and solar radiation, the potential of solar power in the country has been assessed to be around 750 GWp. From State-wise details of estimated solar energy potential in the country as given by MNRE, Uttarakhand has 16.80 (GWp).

India offers huge renewable resource availability and potential. India has the third largest power generation sector globally with a total installed capacity of 372.69 GW as on 31 August 2020. Renewable energy including hydropower constitute 35.94% of India's total installed capacity. The contribution of private sector in the overall installed capacity is increasing, and now stands at 155 GW (45.2%), followed by State and Central Governments with contribution of 84 GW (24.6%) and 103 GW (30.2%) respectively. The share of renewable power has increased considerably from 3.5 GW in 2002 to 69 GW in 2018. (Source: Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, MNRE). With recent advancements in technology, solar energy is harnessed near canal/river bank for optimizing the land use, also India’s largest floating solar power plant started in Kerala as shown in cover photo. Thus, we need to look for new ways capturing solar energy to increase efficiency of solar cells, land use patterns, and maintenance of system.

Challenges for Solar Power

There are various challenges to solar power industry such as financial cost, lack of trained manpower, and confidence of people to install such system. Another drawback is availability of electricity in day-time only. Thus, we need corrective measures to build confidence among citizens to shift towards solar power. We need to promote mechanisms which cover initial cost of installation through agreement with local electricity provider and customer. Land use problems can be solved through adopting floating solar power plants in our reservoir especially in hilly state such as Uttarakhand.

With electricity tariffs are increasing day-by-day then we can promote solar power through better financing approach and confidence building among different stakeholders.


· MNRE Reports, 2015, 2017, 2018


(A blog as a part of SDG and Education series for UN75, #TurnItAround, #Act4SDGs, #ActionSDGs4Future) part of this blog presented in the national seminar

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