Trend in Solar Power Generation Potential in India


  • A study by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has revealed a significantly decreasing trend in solar power generation potential in the country.

Major Highlights of the Study

  • The study titled “Understanding the climatology and long-term trends in solar radiation using ground-based in-situ observations in India,” is authored jointly by six scientists, and has been published by IMD.
  • Investigation by Authors: They investigated the climatology and trends of global radiation (GR), diffuse radiation (DR), bright sunshine hours (BHS), and technical potential of solar photovoltaic power (SPV) using data procured from IMD for the period 1985–2019.
  • Decrease in SPV Potential: There is an alarming decreasing trend in the solar photovoltaic potential in all the selected stations which is likely to continue shortly as well. It would negatively impact energy production from solar resources.
  • Reduction in GR: The study points towards a significant reduction in GR in all parts of the country except the extreme northwest.
  • Reduction in GR is attributed to the increased atmospheric turbidity and cloudiness.
  • Increase in DR: A significant increase in DR has been observed in more than 50 percent of the stations, especially in the northwest and some parts of peninsular India.
  • Decrease in BHS: Pointing out that BHS has significantly decreased in 75 percent of the selected stations, the study brings out that the annual BHS is high in northwest India but low in the north, northeast, and southern peninsular India.
  • Causative Factors: Increased aerosol load — fine particles from carbon emissions, fossil fuel burning, and dust — and clouding are said to be causative factors.
  • Aerosols absorb the sunlight and deflect it away from the ground and they can also precipitate the formation of dense clouds that again block sunlight.
  • The efficiency of solar panels is significantly influenced by the amount of sunlight incident on them.
  • Global Trends on Solar Radiation: The role of aerosols in blocking sunlight available on Earth has been apparent since the 1980s, several studies have shown that there are variations both over time as well as location.
  • Global solar radiation showed a generally decreasing trend from 1981-2006. 1971-2000 showed greater dimming compared to 1981-2006.
  • However, on the whole, there was a reversal in trends after 2001 with the exact causes unclear.

Significance of Solar Energy

  • Impact on the Climate of Earth: Solar radiation has an important role in governing the Earth’s surface-atmosphere energy exchange and climate of the Earth.
  • It modulates the global energy balance and changes the climate and hydrological cycle.
  • Reliance of Various Sectors: Various sectors such as agriculture, energy, industry, etc. directly or indirectly depend on the incoming solar radiation.
  • Source of Clean Energy: Solar energy has been recognized as an alternative to conventional energy resources.
  • Amongst all the clean technologies, solar energy serves as an effective renewable energy resource to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and reduce global warming.
  • Crucial for Self-Dependency: Solar energy is one of the resources capable of self-reliant energy generation, reducing foreign energy dependence.
India’s Solar Energy

– Capacity: As of today, India’s installed solar power capacity is about 81 GW (1 GW is 1,000 megawatts), or roughly 17% of the total installed electricity.

a. India’s largest solar parks are located in the north-west, particularly in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

– India’s Goals: India has ambitious plans of sourcing about 500 GW, nearly half its requirement of electricity, from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

a. This would mean at least 280 GW of solar power by that year or at least 40 GW of solar capacity being annually added until 2030.

Way Ahead
• The technical potential of solar power has a significant decreasing trend in most of the selected stations
which is alarming.
• It necessitates the wide use of solar panels with better efficiency to meet the energy requirements of solar