According to Global Energy Transformation, a report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), "the share of renewable energy in the power sector would increase from 25% in 2017 to 85% by 2050, mostly driven by growth in solar and wind power generation."
The solar panel, using photovoltaic and silicon solar cells to convert radiation into power, has become quite popular around the world. Increasingly becoming an essential energy option for the future, solar power has had a long history of failed starts and limited distribution.
"In 2018, 181 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power was added with rising number of countries having high shares of variable renewable energy (VRE)", according to Renewables 2019 Global Status Report.
Solar PV: The Growth Story
Solar PV capacity in 2018 stood at 505.5 GW, an increase of slightly more than 100 GW from previous year (2017) when it stood at 405 GW. Demand for solar panel is expanding as it becomes the most competitive option for electricity generation - for residential and commercial applications and for utility projects. Markets around the world are contributing significantly to global growth of solar panel. Eleven countries added more than 1 GW of new capacity during 2018, up from 9 countries in 2017 and 7 countries in 2016.
The figures justify the growth story of solar power. While support system of some kind is still needed for solar PV in most countries, interest in purely competitive systems is growing quickly. Self-consumption remains an important driver of the market for new distributed systems in many regions, and corporate purchasing of solar PV is expanding exponentially. Mining, manufacturing and other industries across countries are erecting solar PV plants to power their operations. Record
low cost of installation and operation, driven by intense competition and lower panel prices, are further contributing to the growth and popularity of solar power.
But, Why Solar Power?
The most widely used forms of energy come from non-renewable sources such as coal, natural gas and petroleum. These sources have done a lot of harm to the environment and causing widespread destruction of natural habitats. In such an alarming situation, it is becoming an ever-pressing concern to find alternate sources of energy. Solar energy, a modular technology, is an ultimate rescue and need of the hour. Its ability to be utilised for varied applications is further driving its growth.
Solar can be used for grid connected electricity and off grid power generation. Grid interactive solar energy is chosen because solar energy is available throughout the day which is the peak load demand time, has low running cost and conversion equipments have longer life and need lesser maintenance. The places where utility power is scarce or too expensive have no choice but to opt for their own generation. They generate power from small local generators using both fossil fuels and locally available renewable energy technologies with or without its own storage.
How's India Doing?
Technological improvements will continue to drive the growth of solar panels, making the future of solar bright
In terms of solar capacity, India was the second largest market in Asia in 2018, which added an estimated 10.8 GW for a total of around 32.9 GW. However, India recorded fewer installations relative to the previous year, for the first time since 2014. Several factors contributed to the decline including land and transmission constraints, safeguard duty on imports and uncertainty surrounding the Goods and Services Tax.
Solar PV, India's largest source of new power capacity for the second year running, first time accounted for more than half of the capacity added during the year. Most of India's newly installed capacity during 2018 was in large-scale installations.
Summing It All Up
Talking about solar power generation specifically in India, a combined capacity of 13, 499.41 million units (MU) of solar power was generated during 2016-17, 25,871.07 MU during 2017-18, 39,268.20 MU during 2018-19 and 22,944.81 MU in 2019-20 (till September 2019), as per data reported by the Central Electricity Authority. Further, India has a target to achieve 100 GW of installed solar PV by fiscal year 2022.
Technological improvements will continue to drive the growth of solar panels, making the future of solar bright.