India sitting on huge untapped solar PV off grid opportunities

India is sitting on huge untapped solar Photo Voltaic offgrid opportunities, claim experts.

Updated: Jul 13, 2010, 15:52 PM IST

Bangalore: India is sitting on huge untapped solar Photo Voltaic offgrid opportunities, given its ability to provide energy to hitherto vast untapped remote rural areas, the scope of providing backup power to cell towers and its inherent potential to replace precious fossil fuels.

"The solar PV offgrid opportunities in India are huge, given the fact that over 400 million people do not have access to grid connected electricity", Sathya Prasad,President SEMI India (Semiconductor Equipment Materials International) told reporters.

The off-grid opportunities are significant, given the cost involved in offgrid applications when compared to huge financial investments to be made to set up grids.

Moreover, specific government incentives to promote off grid applications, rapid expansion of wireless telecom and telecom companies` desire to reduce operating cost for base stations (due to diesel cost and losses in diesel pilferage) are also expected to prompt growth in off-grid opportunities.

The potential of replacing huge usage of kerosene used for lighting rural homes makes off-grid applications desirable.

The examples of off-grid PV applications include remote village electrification, power irrigation pumpsets, telecom towers, back up power generation, captive power generation and city, street, billboard and highway lighting.

The Government`s solar mission envisages off-grid applications reaching 2000 MW by 2022 and deploying 20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas, Prasad said.

"However, rapid increase in the market will happen when entrepreneurs and firms tackle unmet needs of the segment and deliver solutions targeted at satisfying the requirements at a market sustainable prices", he said.

On funding, he said the current model proposes combination of subsidy and low interest rate loans to promote off grid applications.
"It is too early to say if this is adequate to drive the market. In the long-term, models like PPP, for profit commercial models are expected to drive growth. Some measure similar to cess on coal may be helpful for promoting off grid", he said.

"The India solar market has been growing at approximately 30 per cent CAGR from 2004-2008 and we expect this double digit growth rate in the coming four to five years,"Prasad said.

"India`s solar/pv module production has crossed more than 1 GW per year in 2009,up from 0.6 in 2005.The photovoltaic solar energy market is emerging and is set for strong growth, he said.
India already has the world`s best solar resources and can position itself to be global leader in Solar PV. To meet energy demands, the government has approved the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, aimed at generating 20,000 MW by 2022.

PTI