“India Has Already Overtaken The Us And Has Become The Second Largest Solar Power Market In The World”

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  1. Mr. Harjinder Kamboj, Head-Quality Azure talks about future of India’s solar industry and quality parameter that should be maintained.
  2. Where do you see the Solar Energy industry in India poised for the next 10 years?  

Solar Energy Industry is expected to grow at a very fast pace in India owing to majorly four positive factors: 

  1. Robust demand due to good economic growth.
  2. Increasing investment because the sector has become quite attractive for both foreign and domestic investors.
  3. Policy support as Government has ramped-up target to achieve 100GW solar installation by 2022. Hopefully, this trend will continue beyond 2022 as well. 
  4. Competitiveness advantage that India has because of the availability of sunlight throughout the year.   

We have seen that in recent years, growth of solar energy in emerging markets had been phenomenal. India has already overtaken the US and has become the second largest solar power market in the world, in terms of solar power installations. 

The country currently stands at almost 25 GW of grid-connected solar power capacity as compared to 9 GW in 2015. Large scale solar installations in India account for 87 percent of solar capacity while rooftop sector has also picked-up. Last year, solar accounted for nearly 53 percent of new energy capacity additions in the country and this is great news for solar sector.

For a developing country like India, where electricity for every home was once considered a dream is now close to reality. The government initiative of ‘power for all’ is changing the socio-economic structure of the country. In fact, people are demand 24×7 power supply and Government is also working tirelessly to fulfil their demand.

The sector also has immense potential to create new jobs; 1 GW of Solar manufacturing facility generates approximately 4000 direct and indirect jobs. In addition, solar deployment, operations and maintenance creates additional recurring jobs in the sector.

Are we seeing a major push towards better & smarter technology in solar sector by the EPC contractors? 

With power tariff hitting all time low, developers are under tremendous pressure on cost. So, at present, more focus is on reduction of project cost per KWp, while maintaining quality of equipment and construction at the same level.  

However, a lot of developments have been seen in this regard, like; 

  • Development and use of new construction machinery and tools for a quick project handling. 
  • Optimization of efficiency and reliability of photovoltaic systems.
  • Use of String Inverters rather than Central Inverters in order to minimise the mis-match losses and to maximise the output.  
  • R&D of utility-scale energy storage systems for stabilization of regional power grids. 
  • Combination of Wind, Solar and even fuel-based energy sources in Hybrid Power Plants.
  • Co-operation with energy suppliers and grid operators for an utmost environmentally-friendly and inexhaustible source of energy. 
  • Remote installation monitoring by drone-based system.

Solar project should be designed for a life of 25 years. What quality parameters should mounting structures adhere to, in order to sustain over this period?  

Solar Mounting Structures are critical components in solar power plants, which support the solar panels on the ground or on rooftops. They ensure the structural stability of the solar system.

Solar panels need secure fastening to the roof or ground to protect against high velocity winds. Moreover, solar panels also require protection against water logging and other elements that gather on the ground or on the roof. Mounting structures must adhere to adverse environment conditions. 

The Mounting structure shall be so designed to withstand the speed for the wind zone of the location where a PV system is proposed to be installed. 

It may be ensured that the design has been certified by a recognized Lab / Institution and submit Wind Load calculation sheet to MEDA. 

Suitable fastening arrangement and grouting should be provided in order to secure the installation against the specific wind speed.

The mounting structure steel shall be as per latest IS 2062: 1992 and galvanization of the mounting structure shall be in compliance of latest IS 4759.

Structural material shall be corrosion resistant and electrolytically compatible with the materials used in the module frame, its fasteners, nuts and bolts.

Aluminium structures also can be used, particularly in rooftop installations which can withstand the wind speed of respective wind zone. 

Apart from design and selection of suitable steel grade, it is also necessary to protect the structure parts from rusting either by coating or anodization. 

Suppliers, having robust manufacturing and Coating facilities should be selected for supply of structures. 

Do We Need Stricter Product Certification Guidelines And Quality Standards For The Solar Sector?

Yes, off course. As I said earlier, there is tremendous pressure on the cost of the projects. So, wherever possible, component manufacturers would try to optimize the cost. 

Therefore, in order to ensure the desired Quality of the components, stricter Product Certifications and Quality Standards must be implemented on all critical equipment, like PV Modules, Transformer, Inverters, Cable, Panels, Module Mounting Structures etc. 

Inspection and Testing must be ensured at factory before these components are shipped to sites. 

As we know that PV module being most expensive and critical items in the PV Plant, so special focus must be given on selection and qualification of module suppliers through review of IEC / BIS certificates, factory audits, close monitoring of quality parameters during production and pre-shipment inspection according to relevant standards.  

In order to ensure reliability of PV Modules, sequential testing methods need to be incorporated.

List some of the challenges you come across while developing a project?  

Despite tremendous efforts from Government to promote Clean Energy in India, Solar industry has been facing a lot of barriers, like: 

Training and development of human resources to drive industry growth and PV adoption. 

The lack of closer industry-government cooperation for the technology to achieve scale.

Land allotment & PPA signing is a long procedure under the Generation Based Incentive scheme. 

Lack of better financing infrastructure, models and arrangements. 

Lack of collaborative, focused and goals driven R&D to help India attain technology leadership. 

Domestic manufacturing failed to take advantage of Safe-Guard import duty imposed on PV Solar Modules, even after one year of imposition.  Government should consider some other way-out in order to help the domestic Solar manufacturing sector. 

There is a need for more promotional incentives by Government and better industry-government co-operation in order to give a further push the Solar Industry in India.  

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