India’s insatiable appetite for electricity and the government’s push for clean energy have meant sunny times for solar power. Plunging solar tariffs—including a record-low bid of Rs3.3/kWh (kilowatt hour) recently—augur well.
So much so that solar power has reached, or is reaching, grid parity in terms of direct cost compared with the all-India average power purchase prices of distribution utilities. That’s encouraging, given the ambitious solar capacity installation target of 100GW (gigawatts) by 2022. But the thing to remember is that solar power cannot be viewed in isolation. We need to assess the phasing and timeline of the 100GW target in a holistic manner through an integrated energy policy. Else, India will remain a power paradox, with vast swathes of the country reeling under power cuts in times of surplus power generation. Essentially, the following areas need to be addressed: