We love the global nature of sustainability. Have you thought about what it might take for a country to become a super power in renewable energy? Here's a story that might just get you thinking about that:
"A new roadmap from India’s largest provider of solar solutions shows how the nation could become a global solar superpower within ten years, adding 145 GW of solar capacity through a network of residential, commercial, utility and ultra-mega-scale solar power systems.
The joint report, “How should India drive its solar transformation? Beehives or Elephants,” released by Tata Power Solar and consulting firm Bridge to India, examines the pros and cons of rolling out four different types of solar power generation – residential rooftop, 1-5 KW (solar bees); commercial rooftop, 10-500KW (solar pigeons); utility-scale, 5-50MW (solar horses); and ultra-mega projects, 1-3GW (solar elephants).
Although solar now accounts for just one per cent of India’s installed capacity, Bridge to India Director, Dr Tobias Engelmeier, says falling PV prices have changed the fundamentals of domestic energy supply since 2010, when India’s National Solar Mission set a target of installing 20 GW of grid-connected solar power by 2022.
“The realisable potential for solar power generation in India is between 110 GW to 145GW across different types of systems. The four scenarios together could easily create over 675,000 solar jobs in India in the next 10 years. But, the real issue is to choose the best way for India to go solar which entails a fair choice between millions of small systems (“bees”) on one end of a spectrum and a few very large systems (“elephants”) on the other, the former creating a consumer market and the latter an infrastructure market."
Importantly, the report analyses each scenario not only in terms of the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) – the cost of building the systems - but also the landed cost of power (LCOP) which is the cost to the consumer at the point of consumption, rather than generation. The report argues that LCOP costs can be as much as 30 per cent higher than LCOE, and is therefore a more accurate way to measure the economic viability of energy systems.
The cheapest immediate option is the solar elephant, mega-scale plants of 1-3 GW capacity. Already on par with coal-fired power, they have a LCOE of INR 6.6/kWh (AUD 0.12/kWh) and a landed cost of INR 8.4/kWh (AUD 0.15/kWh). But with coal import costs expected to soar over the next three years, the report finds all other scenarios –the horses, pigeons and bees will soon also reach price parity with coal.
"In the long term, large rooftop systems will be the cheapest option for Indian with a levelised generation cost of INR 6.6/kWh (AUD 0.12/kWh and a landed cost of INR 6.7/kWh (AUD 0.12/kWh) by 2024," the report states.
"India has the potential to become one of the largest transformative solar markets in the world, free of subsidies and with a thriving solar value creation ecosystem. However, it must strike a balance among the various ramp-up opportunities it has – both via central and distributed generation. Thus, the report recommends specific actions in each of these areas."