Solar Energy and Electric Vehicles could freeze India’s Fossil Fuel Growth

1024 576 Sri Harsha Bavirisetty

India is expected to become the world’s third biggest solar market by end of 2017, after China and the US. The cumulative solar capacity, including rooftop and off-grid segments, has crossed 10,000 MW. With an average capacity addition of 8-10 GW per annum, the total installed capacity is expected to reach around 18 GW by end of 2017. As the Indian market ramps up, it will become a key pillar for demand growth when demand in other leading countries including China, Japan and even possibly the USA is expected to slow down.


Solar power has the potential of lowering the expenditure on energy through peak shaving, strengthening energy security, and reducing reliance on unsustainable fossil fuels. It reduces the burden on existing transmission and distribution system. Hence, less expenditure will be required on their maintenance.

Solar power tariffs have been falling in the last two years due to government’s thrust on raising India’s green energy footprint and reduce oil imports by 10% by 2030. Recently, there has been news about solar power tariffs in India finding a new floor at Rs.2.97 per unit, sinking below the average cost of Rs.3 for electricity supplied by state-run generation utility NTPC from its coal-fired plant.

Solar power can be a potential boon to many sectors such as rural electrification, irrigation systems, water pumping, and sustainable transportation through electric vehicles. The growth rate of air pollution in urban India has been alarming. Of the 50 urban areas with the worst ambient air pollution across the globe, 22 are in India. India’s capital, New Delhi, has been ranked as the most polluted mega-city in the world. We need to act fast as the gathering evidence worldwide convinces that India requires a leapfrog agenda to address the public health crisis looming large due to rapidly growing air pollution.


Solar Power and Electric Vehicles is the key to significantly reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and are the natural evolution of our energy infrastructure. Solar energy could halt worldwide growth in demand for oil and coal. The country plans to generate 175GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 out of which 100GW should be from solar power projects. Storage is going to be the next frontier for India’s clean energy push, and the batteries in EVs offer a potential solution.

Electricity comes from a variety of sources and it’s crucial that electric vehicles will be powered by renewables. The running cost of our Li-Ion battery powered SmartAuto by leveraging traditional power supply systems is Rs.0.50 per km. With the declining solar power tariffs, the running cost of our SmartAuto can be brought down to as low as Rs.0.30 per km, which could potentially make it the cleanest and cheapest means of public transport in India. There are many organizations in countries like US, offering solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations in a small scale.


Given the efficiency of existing solar panels and the relatively limited size of any electric vehicle’s roof, the amount of energy that can be produced by installing solar cells on the vehicle’s roof isn’t going to help much. However, extensive research is being done globally to develop more efficient and smaller solar cells, which could make it possible to attach small cells to any electric vehicle that gets charged on the go.

With both electric vehicles and residential/commercial solar power systems becoming more efficient and affordable, the potential for commuting green going mainstream is high. India’s energy import bill is expected to double from around $150 billion to $300 billion by 2030. The country’s shift to solar power generation and electric vehicles makes a lot of sense as a scalable green initiative as it helps reduce pollution and fuel imports.


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