India with abundant sunshine is an ideal location to develop solar energy. The technology is constantly being upgraded and like wind energy it is estimated new solar technology too will achieve grid parity soon with conventional energy sources. Still solar energy has been grossly underutilized in India. On an average most parts of our country receive 300 days of strong sun light. It has been estimated that this sunshine results in 200 MW/km2 of energy every hour and 12.5 per cent of India’s landmass can be used to harness this natural source of renewable energy. Till now India hasn’t installed a single Concentrated Solar Power plant but studies show that they have potential to produce 11,000 TWh (Table 2) of electricity every year. Along with this solar water heaters can be installed on building and other built up areas and their usage can substantially bring down the current electricity consumption. With an aim to harness such huge potential lying untapped the policy makers launched Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission in November 2009. IT aims to produce 22000 MW of power through solar resource by 2022.
At the end of June 2010 India’s installed solar power capacity was 15.2 MW and it was powered entirely by PV technology. However, grid connected solar power accounts for only 12.58 MW or 0.07 per cent of the total grid connected renewable power capacity that stands at 17,174 MW. Off grid and de-centralised solar power projects fared better. Both private as well as public sector undertakings have started investing in CSP. Foreign companies have invested $ 55 million and NTPC is developing a 10 MW plant in Rajasthan and a 25 MW in Uttar Pradesh. Other CSP projects approved for Gujarat and Rajasthan will generate another 381 MW. As far as solar water heating is concerned the total installed capacity as on June 2010 was a little over 3.5 million m2 where as the potential stands at 40 million m2. The government has set a target of increasing this capacity to 20 million m2 by 2022.