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Solar energy resources UPSC | Resources | Geography of India

Status of Solar energy in India:

As of 2020, 

India is in the 5th position of solar energy production in the world after China, the USA, Japan, and Germany.

So far as of November 2021, the generation of solar power (47GW) accounts for the largest share of the generation of renewable energy (100.3 GW). Wind power generation (40 GW) now ranks second.

Rajasthan (9 GW) and Karnataka (7.5 GW) are the largest solar power-producing states.

At least 300 days of clear sunshine happen in India.

Sunlight to Solar energy:

Sun has been radiating huge amounts of energy for about 5 billion years and would continue to provide energy for more than 5 billion years.

Nearly 50 % of solar radiation gets absorbed or radiated back from the atmosphere; only 50 % of solar radiation is able to reach the earth.

There are two methods to convert solar radiation to electrical energy:

  • Photovoltaic Technology
  • Solar Thermal Technology

Photovoltaic technology is a solar cell that converts sunlight directly to electricity whereas, in solar thermal technology, first solar radiation is used to heat the water to make steam to run the turbine. The turbine converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Solar thermal technology has more advantages over photovoltaic technology for mass production:

  • It is cheap and environmentally friendly.
  • Easy to control.
  • It is 7 percent more effective than coal in an oil-based plant.
  • It is 10% more effective than a nuclear plant.

Advantages of Solar energy in India:

Indian climate is a tropical climate and the tropic of cancer (23.5 degrees North latitude) passes near the middle of India, which is why India has huge potential for solar energy. Solar energy is key for the future economic development of India.
The following are the importance of solar energy in the future economic development of India:
  • Solar energy is a good option for energy security in India as we are highly dependent on petroleum which largely comes from imports.
  • Solar energy is a good option for energy security for rural populations and remote areas. About 25 % of the Indian population lives without access to electricity.
  • Installation of solar energy in rural areas would minimize the dependence of rural houses on firewood, dung cake, kerosene, and diesel. Animal dung will be used as manure for agriculture.
  • Expansion of Solar energy can improve the quality of millions of the Indian population. It will also generate employment.
  • Solar energy will help to fight against global warming. As per the report, India is planning to install the world's largest solar park with a capacity of 2 GW in Karnataka and it will provide electricity to nearly 10 Lakh population and will reduce the co2 emissions by 20 million tons in a year.
  • Solar cells require very little maintenance, it is not dangerous to use, and they can be set up in remote and inaccessible Hamlet areas.
  • Degraded lands are generally used for solar parks, in this way it is helping us for land-use efficiency

 Limitation of Solar Energy:

  • The initial cost is high. Installation of a large solar park requires much land which is very costly.
  • Energy storage for the night is challenging.
  • Silicon is abundant in nature but special-grade silicon is limited in nature.
  • Silver used in solar cells makes it costly.
  • Used solar cells and batteries create huge e-waste; that needs proper disposal. Mismanagement would lead to environmental loss.

Try to solve the following questions:
  • Discuss the importance of solar energy in the future economic development of India. ( 20 Marks, UPSC geography 2021 optional)
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