Solar Energy or solar power have been a great source of alternative/clean/non-conventional energy source since the past few decades worldwide and in this regard India wasn’t much too far behind. As such things were rolling at its own sweet pace and there have been few organizations, both government and private as well, who have been taking this thing forward with MNRE being the supreme boss of all. However, after the new government came into being last year under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, who was known for his encouragement and implementations of many breakthrough solar power projects in his state Gujarat whilst his tenure as the Gujarat CM, things are taking a big turn.
Ever since taking office, the new government at the centre have been pushing for renewable energy especially solar to meet the power deficiency in the country as well as cutting down the CO₂ emissions. Accordingly, multiple schemes and plans are being announced and the private sector and domestic sector is getting much more involved in this green revolution.
Manufacturing and rurally located industries were earlier known to go for solar power in their quest to meet the energy requirements and all the more due to the poor grid availability in those areas. However, the latest trend is that IT Companies are going the solar way especially in cities like Bangalore and Pune. What is interesting is earlier these IT companies were using solar only either to meet their RPO obligation or as a part of the mandatory 2% CSR program, but now the trend seems to change. More and more IT powerhouses are vying to go the solar way ever since the Net Metering Scheme was launched in select states and cities across India.
For instance take the example of Infosys: India’s largest IT Company. In 2013-14, Infosys procured 75.6 million units from renewable energy projects. This is equivalent to about 30% of the company’s total electricity consumption. Now considering the fact that it has offices across all over India viz. Bengal, Odisha, Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, AP, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, etc; most of the states not having a RPO of more than 10% it still utilized such a huge amount of green power. It only implies it is way above other companies when it comes to going the clean and green way.
As per information from sources, Infosys is now planning to source its entire power demand from solar power projects by 2018. Analysis shows that a massive cumulative demand of 175 MW is expected by the company in 2018. So far, they have already commissioned 2 MW of solar photovoltaic power capacity at 2 of its campuses and further plans to add 20 MW power over the next couple of years. The rest of the requirement will be met by off station power plants that it will invest into. Once the planned 175 MW is commissioned it would be able to offset over 270,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions every year. It has already commissioned a 1.07 MW in January last year in Chennai and already announced a 50 MW in Karnataka which is most likely to come in Chitradurga. All these initiatives show the clear intent of Infosys and it’s likely that they will achieve their target to become carbon neutral by 2017.
Reports have come that companies like Mindtree, Wipro and IBM are also planning on the similar lines as of Infosys and to some extent has already executed and achieved small targets. This trend could prompt others to follow suit and also the higher middle class and the environment concerned folks to go the solar way. Bangalore itself has already seen the solar water heating boom and now it’s time for PV after the recent announcement of the net metering scheme by BESCOM. Delhi too has emulated the same. The next 2 years will be very vital as Government of India is planning to induct a lot of new policies for this segment. The World’s largest solar power plant of a mammoth 750 MW has already been announced in Madhya Pradesh and plans are on to inaugurate it on 2016 Independence Day although it needs to be seen if that will see daylight on 15th August 2016.
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu in his maiden Railway Budget announced multiple solar projects to be undertaken by Railways and plans are on to make some stations fully powered by solar. Ajmer station is being planned on that lines and it is going completely solar powered by 2015 end. In the recently concluded Vibrant Gujarat summit in Ahmedabad major MOUs were signed between the government and few of the biggest solar companies in world. PM Modi is also pushing hard all across the globe from US to Japan for the ‘Make India’ concept. If things are to go as desired India may well become the next global manufacturing hub of solar power. This could fetch job to millions of skilled and unskilled people. The ever burning issue of unemployment could be curtailed down if not all but to some extent due to this. Right now, China leads the solar power industry in every angle. Just like the claims and aspirations of many Indians as well as the government’s to pip China in the race to economy and development India needs to tap into this industry for a better tomorrow.