Solar PV Technology Foresight for India

Key Words: Energy Scenario,Current and Projected Generation Capacity, Research & Development, Manufacturing, Silicon Technology, Thin Film Technology, Plasmonic, Organic PV, Dye Sensitized Solar Cells, Perovskite Solar Cells, Storage Technologies, Balance of Systems, PV Cleaning Systems, Tracker, PV Industry Waste Disposal, Performance and Reliability, Fuel Cells, Fly Wheels, Super capacitors, Batteries, Hybrid Systems, Standalone Systems, Mini & Micro Grid , Rooftop PV, Inverters, Solar Pumps, Raw Material,  Demand Projections, Cost Projections, Building Integrated PV, Railways, Rural Applications, Telecom, Transport, Energy Efficiency, Capacity Building, Human Resources, SEZ, Cluster Approach, Investment, Policy

Executive Summary
India’s sustained growth has placed enormous demand on the country’s natural resources. Today, India imports substantial quantities of gas, oil and coal in order to meet its growing energy demand. The increasing dependence on imported fuels creates a serious threat to the energy security of the country. In addition, the country’s 254 GW of power generation capacity based on conventional sources has further strained the natural resources and degrading the environment. Around 60% of India’s current power generation is based on coal which is expected to remain the dominant power source in the near future in case of business as usual scenario. India is increasingly relying on coal & oil imports to meet its energy demand, thereby exhibiting a lot of pressure on Indian economy.  
In view of electricity demand supply gap, huge quantities of diesel and furnace oil are being used by all sectors – industrial, commercial, institutional or residential. Lack of rural electrification is leading to large-scale use of kerosene. This usage needs to be reduced, as it is leading to enormous costs in form of subsidies and increasing the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. At the same time, a large proportion of the citizens continue to live with no access to electricity and other forms of commercial energy. A considerable part of Indian rural population has little or no energy access for their living and livelihood. Others with access often have to cope with poor and erratic availability of electricity and other fuels. With constraints faced in resource availability and in delivery mechanisms, traditional means of energy supply are falling short. This is likely to be the case in the foreseeable future so that energy access will continue to remain a problem.
Moreover, there is a huge social and environmental cost of mining and burning the conventional fuels. The importance of exploring new sources of energy for addressing the demand-supply mismatch and fuel security has been felt.

India is set to overtake China in the mid 2020’s as the principal source of growth in global energy demand. India’s projected dependence on imported sources of energy including oil, coal and gas shall be the major impediments to India’s plans for becoming a progressive and energy independent nation. Sticking with the business as usual scenarios, by 2035 the expected growth in import of fossil fuels will result in tremendous pressure on Indian economy and environment.

Solar PV in India- Opportunity to be tapped
India stands at a solar installed capacity of nearly 2.9 GW as on November 2014. Despite our huge potential, government will and incentive mechanisms, large scale deployment of PV will be feasible only if PV generation costs shall achieve the grid parity. The generation cost has been brought down from the initial high of approximately INR 17/unit to about INR 6.5 /unit. However, further reduction in price is still required to obtain grid parity and it will be possible when we shall be able to address the following measures:
•    Higher conversion efficiency
•    Less material consumption
•    Application of new and locally available materials
•    Innovations in low cost manufacturing processes
•    Mass production
•    Optimization of technologies for balance of systems
•    Indigenous manufacturing of solar PV equipment
•    Generating skilled work force
The Government plans to scale up solar to a cumulative 100GW by 2022. MNRE has already prepared a way forward for achieving the targets envisaged and has listed out the immediate actions required by the Government and interventions from various stakeholders including regulators, distribution companies and financial institutions. Achievement of these targets would not only contribute to long term energy security of country and ecological security by reduction in carbon emissions, but also generate large direct and indirect employment generation opportunities in solar and allied industries like glass, metals, heavy industrial equipment, etc.

Solar power is a sustainable solution for meeting energy needs, reducing dependence on depleting fossil fuels, providing additional revenue to the Government through taxes and duties and making productive use of abundant wastelands for power plants as well as manufacturing hubs. It will also create jobs across the value chain — from R&D to manufacturing, installation and maintenance.With the targets of 100GW, the employment numbers are going to shoot up in next 5 -10 years.

Turning India into a solar manufacturing hub

Domestic and global demand foresight
To meet the set target, India requires a strong base to manufacture materials and equipment required at various level of supply chain. On the other hand, India’s current manufacturing base was primarily established to cater the export market mainly to Europe although the solar module export market has suffered badly due to unprecedented growth of Chinese manufacturing in the last 5 years. In parallel to Indian market, the global market will grow in the range of 400-500GW by 2020. To play a global leadership role, India must also focus on global export market.

Infrastructure and ecosystem
The Indian solar PV industry has largely been dependent on import of critical raw materials and components including silicon wafers. Transforming this would require proactive implementation of Special Incentive Package (SIPs) policy to promote PV manufacturing plants, including domestic manufacture of silicon material. It has to be ensured that transfer of technology is built into Government and private procurement from foreign sources. To create a strong manufacturing hub in India, the following policy supports will be required.
•    Financing and incentives: SEZ like incentives to be provided to the manufacturing parks which may include zero import duty on capital equipment, raw materials and excise duty exemption. Low interest rate loans, priority sector lending, with special incentives to set up integrated manufacturing plant for polysilicon to solar modules and thin film based module manufacturing plants
•    Ease of doing business by creating single window clearances mechanism for all permissions
•    Capital subsidies and export subsidies to promote the growth of the solar industry in both Indian and global prospects, thus providing a boost to the market players
•    Accelerated depreciation benefits, would make investments economically sustainable, which would further attract a number of market players
•    Policy measures in India have catalysed one of the largest demonstration based PV programmes in the world.  There is a need forsound framework to ease the strict regime of difficult to adhere to procedures, practices and overalls semantics of project implementation
•    Regulatory practices in terms of a set of well laid out regulations is deemed necessary to provide the much-needed momentum to the subdued market demand for a variety of reasons. Technology foresight is to be able to put in place such regulations to ensure realization of the earmarked targets

Strengthening R&D base
As per the National solar mission, a major R&D initiative has to be set up which would focus firstly, on improvement of efficiencies in existing materials, devices and applications and on reducing costs of balance of systems, establishing new applications by addressing issues related to integration and optimization, secondly, on developing cost-effective storage technologies which would address both variability and storage constraints.
Setting up of institutional capacity like national centre of excellence may be worked out to promote this sector and to encourage various premier research institutes in India to cater the technology interface with international research organizations and technology collaborations to bring forth the R&D capability of Indian institutions.
•    Short-term R&D must focus on making the PV industry more competitive. Industry would be pushed for investment in short-term R&D and as the PV industry grows, this pressure may increase. Government, however, may take a view on medium and long-term R&D. These views will underpin long-term improvements in technologies and enable breakthroughs that could give such technologies a decisive advantage in energy markets. This will ensure that Solar PV can compete successfully, without subsidy, once external environmental costs and other contributions to social goals (e.g. access, security) are taken into account.
•    While considering medium to long term, the lifetime of PV system components and the value of PV electricity must be considered. In addition, energy and materials consumption in manufacturing and installation is essential, as is the further shortening of energy pay-back time. Avoiding the use of scarce or hazardous materials presents significant R&D challenges. Standardization and harmonization as well as flexibility in system design are required. Socio-economic aspects such as public and political awareness, training and education, user acceptance and financing must also be considered. Resolving these issues will make PV more attractive while also leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Getting the balance right between R&D and market, stimulation funding will be the solution for long-term market development. Cost and prices must continue to come down steadily for PV to maintain public appeal and to develop and propagate the emerging interest from electricity utilities and investors.

Key R&D thrust areas

Thrust areas which need to be undertaken by Indian R&D fraternity to make India a leading nation in SPV technology and its applicationsto remain globally competitive with state-of-the-art:
•    R&D for production of polysilicon, the basic material for producing crystalline silicon. Without this basic material India will not be able to compete globally and will remain an importer of solar cells and modules from abroad.
•    Development of indigenous manufacturing equipment for the production of PV cells and modules and other items. With imported equipment Indian products will not be cost effective.
•    Strong R&D base is needed to support Indian industries to remain globally competitive. In addition India should do frontline Research and Development in different areas of emergingSPV Technologies for which comprehensive plan with targets have to be worked out. Major thrust areas under the technology heads are as below:
o    Silicon technology

  1. Development of crystalline (single crystal ) silicon solar cell efficiency of 20% and above
  2. Development of crystalline silicon (single crystal) solar cell with Interdigited Back Contact (IBC)with efficiency 24% and above.

o    Thin Film Solar Cell Technologies

  1. Development of silicon based Thin Film solar cell Technologies with stabilized efficiencies of 15%
  2. Development of CZTS Thin Film Technology with efficiency 15% and above

o    New &futuristic technologies

  1. HIT cell Technology
  2. Development of HIT Cell Technology with efficiency 23%
  3. Development of Interdigited Back Contact HIT cell Technology with efficiency 25% and above.
  4. Development of Dye sensitized soar cell with initial efficiency above 15%
  5. Development of stabilized and Reliable Perovskite cell with efficiency 22% and above
  6. Development of organic /polymer soar cells with initial efficiency 12% and  above

•    Development of low cost and efficientstorage technologies
•    Development of innovative Balance of Systems including power electronics
•    Development of equipment for manufacturing of PV Modules

Manpower and skill development
India needs to set up a skilled manpower development plan to create a pool of resources with solar specific skill-set needed in the sector. There is a requirement to set up a solar energy task force to meet the upcoming solar manpower requirements in India. It can be achieved through a continuous effort by government to set up training centres, programs and universities with dedicated courses on solar power. Extensive programs including short and long term courses at the ITI and polytechnic level can help in bridging the manpower requirement gap and generate the skill set at the lower end of pyramid, while focussed R&D to develop the same at the other end.

Solar PV Technology foresight
•    India’s huge availability of quartzite, which is a raw feedstock material for the production of polysilicon/wafers, needs to be tapped.  BHEL spearheaded the PV module manufacturing initiative in the inception stages of the national PV programme and is again at the forefront of setting up a large scale manufacturing facility for silicon material development. Technology foresight of this nature is a welcome move which has the potential of meeting the local industry needs as well as serving the overseas markets in a cost competitive manner. Although India had acquired the knowhow for silicon wafer production under a public-private collaborative venture mode way back in 1986, the technology maturity of this nature was just partially realized with the setting up of a 25 TPA capacity plant. Technology foresight is to provide a renewed thrust to such initiatives in terms of quite enhanced capacity levels as well.

•    Crystalline silicon is expected to rule the Indian solar industry in the foreseeable future too. Technology foresight is to make all out efforts for a technology mix in the backdrop of each solar cell/module technology having selective few unique attributes of its own. That alone is going to ensure an expanded product/market/programme base bereft of a continued dependence on a single source technology.

•    Solar cell and module efficiencies attained in the production sets have seen a marked increase over the last few years or so. The technology foresight is to be able to produce these at efficiency levels closer to the best theoretical efficiency limit.

•    There are a large number of system manufacturers/assemblers/suppliers available in the marketplace today. Quantitative achievements have always outweighed the qualitative considerations for a variety of reasons. Technology foresight is to dispense with the already attained test certifications in the event of performing badly under the actual field operating conditions. Failing which, there is a growing apprehension of PV systems seldom performing on a long-term basis without any major hiccups.

Solar technology has come to be regarded as an easy marching product base devoid of any strong need for mass awareness driven programmes. Technology foresight is to be able to bring alive the ready to use benefits and accompanying roles/responsibilities for the healthy upkeep of solar products far and wide.
Financial impetus in a desired measure has been the mainstay of the PV programme in India so far.  Technology foresight is to allow market driven dynamics to stimulate the development of self-created market demand instead of a compulsive one.  
Solar energy has been an important component of India’s energy planning process since quite some time. Government of India has formulated various policies at the state as well as national levels to further investments in the renewable energy sector from domestic as well as foreign investors. Private sector investments, primarily driven by government incentives such as fiscal incentives, tax holidays, depreciation allowances and 100% FDI allowance have been the major drivers of the renewable energy sector in India. These initiatives have helped growth in the renewable energy sector. The installed capacity of solar increased its share reaching a capacity of 2.9 GW (as on November 2014).
Solar power is emerging as a key source of renewable power in India with the government declaring schemes and programs to support the development of solar projects. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) is at the forefront in terms of the capacity planned for the development in India. Both JNNSM and the state policies have encouraged large scale solar projects by facilitating long-term PPA agreements for solar power between IPPs and distribution companies (DISCOMS) at cost-reflective preferential tariffs.
Despite the efforts, the growth in solar sector is sluggish. With increasing peak demand supply gaps, depleting fossil fuel bases, increasing energy-related greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, the importance of exploiting solar energy becomes more significant. To address this challenge, solar PV technology roadmap has been developed which identify the steps needed to accelerate the implementation of technology changes and boost up the solar PV sector in India. These roadmaps will enable governments, industry and financial partners to make the right choices – and in turn help societies to make the right decision.
PVpoweris one of the most promising technologies.The cost of PV modules has become one fifth in the last six years and the cost of full PV systems has been reduced byalmost threefolds. The levelized cost of electricity of decentralized solar PV systems is approaching or falling below the variable portion of retail electricity prices that system owners pay in some markets, across residential and commercial segments. For bulk power on grid, PV electricity can already be competitive at times of peak demand, especially in areas where peak electricity is provided by burning oil products. And there remains ample room for improvements, as this foresight study details.

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