India’s plan to become of the largest solar power markets in the world has received a massive boost as the latest estimated of its solar power potential.
The National Institute of Solar Energy in India (pdf) has determined the country’s solar power potential at about 750 GW, a recently released document by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) shows. The solar power potential has been estimated using the wasteland availability data in every state and jurisdiction of India. The estimate is based on the assumption that only 3% of the total wasteland available in a state is used for development of solar power projects.
According to the estimates, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir have the highest solar power potential. Rajasthan, with its healthy resource of solar radiation and availability of vast tracts of wasteland in the form of the Thar Desert, has a potential of about 142 GW. Jammu & Kashmir receives the highest amount of solar radiation in India, and has a significantly large area of wasteland in Ladakh. The state has an estimated potential of 111 GW. However, this estimate may also include the land currently under Pakistan’s control.
Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra both have more than 60 GW of solar power potential. These are among the largest of the Indian states and thus have large wasteland resources. Both these states have ambitious solar power policies and plans to implement large-scale solar power projects.
Gujarat, the leading Indian state in terms of installed solar power capacity, has an estimated potential of 36 GW. The state has large tracts of land covered with marshes but these lands also support a wide variety of wildlife. Gujarat already has an installed capacity of close to 900 MW of solar power and has already started developing utility-scale solar power projects over water canals.
Agricultural states like Punjab and Haryana expectedly rank low in terms of estimated solar power potential. Punjab would find it difficult to make available land for large solar power projects and has thus decided to concentrate efforts to set up solar power projects over rooftops and canals.
India’s current solar power installed capacity is around 3 GW, or less than 0.5% of the estimated potential. Naturally there exists a massive opportunity to tap this potential. As a result, the Indian government has increased its solar power capacity addition target five-fold. Instead of the initial target to installed 22 GW solar power capacity by 2022, the government now plans to add 100 GW capacity. This includes 20 GW of ultra mega solar power projects, with installed capacity of 500 MW or more, across 12 states.
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