Amit Bansal, Director - Finance, Vivaan.
How has solar PV technology evolved since its adoption in India?
PV technology in India has completed more than 40 year and it is evolving continuously. Today, we occupy the position of a leader in the world's solar power market. India did a commendable job in the 1990s when manufacturing base was strengthened to over 300,000 smaller systems aggregated to 22 MW. Besides, for almost two decades, PV technology has remains as one of the great sources of foreign currency in India's export basket.
What is the market for PV panels shaping up in India?
Advanced and continuous research on solar cell materials, developments in enhancing the manufacturing capabilities of SPV module, and incentives for installation of SPV electricity in domestic and commercial set-ups are bringing good opportunities for PV panels in both national and international markets.
Talking about the economics, how viable are the low tariffs being quoted for solar?
From Rs.17/kWh in 2011 to Rs.3/kWh in 2017, solar power tariffs have declined rapidly in India. Along with low production cost, incentive-based government policies play a crucial role in reducing the tariffs. However, high distribution cost in rural areas and induction of five per cent GST are making this segment less attractive to big players in the solar energy sector.
What role will solar PV play in rural electrification?
New business models intro¡duced in the last five years have been quite effective in meeting the demands of rural India. From Karnataka to Punjab, rooftop photovoltiac (RTPV) is expanding all across the country. Still, high transmission cost and low tariff are the two big barriers that need to be overcome through PPP projects.
How is domestic manufacturing evolving?
India's domestic sector is the second largest consumer segment after industries. The electricity consumption in this segment has increased almost seven-fold in the last 25 years, and by 2040 domestic consumption would reach up to 1,270 GWh. Despite this impressive growth, a lot more is required to illuminate the life of more than 300 million Indians.
Since WTO ruled in USA's favour regarding DCR effects have you seen?
Organisations like WTO should take unbiased decisions to promote renewable energy because developing countries are already struggling with environmental issues. Such steps are discouraging, especially to foreign investors. To deal with this scenario, India must strongly convey to the world that it is determined to replace the existing energy base with eco-friendly renewable energies in a certain time framework.
What is the future of PV technology?
The GoI is quite supportive of boosting the growth of PV technology and the future seems brilliant. R&D in this sector is taking place at a good speed and there are many foreign companies that are willing to collaborate and invest in this sector. Third-generation solar cells use a variety of new materials and nanotechnology etc., for designing high efficiency PV materials. These systems are expected to rapidly become cost effective for use by utilities and industry.
What are the developments on this in India?
From perovskite and gallium-arsenide to silicon based PV cells, the Indian solar industry is working on all the latest technologies and the research work is continuously gaining pace in both public and private institutions. One of the most powerful solar-absorbing technology, 'quantum dots' has been already introduced in various R&D laboratories of the country.
Hybrid solar has still not picked up - do you see this changing?
Apart from government institutions, many private commercial establishments are making efforts to develop better solar storage technologies and systems. IESA is working very well in this direction, and to support it various industries are keen to set up battery plants of wide range of capacities.
Kindly quantify the growth you expect over the next 2-5 years?
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has approved more than 30 parks of a total capacity of about 19 GW in 21 states acrpss the country. The rising start-up culture in India and gradual decline in solar PV cost are responsible for the 300 per cent growth of small energy grids (SEGs) in 2016, when compared to 2013. The recent decision of GoI to levy only 5 per cent GST on the solar sector is indeed a great initiative, and will help the industry pick up the growth momentum. The sector is expected to grow between 100-110 per cent over the next five years.
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