Trend in Solar Power Generation Potential in India

GS-1 Mains

Revision Notes

Question : Discuss the findings of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) study on the long-term trends in solar radiation in India. What are the implications of the observed decrease in solar photovoltaic potential for the country’s solar energy production?


  • A study by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) titled “Understanding the climatology and long-term trends in solar radiation using ground based in-situ observations in India” (2019) reveals a concerning decrease in solar power generation potential.

Key Findings of the Research

  • Investigation Period: 1985-2019
  • Decrease in SPV Potential: A significant and concerning decline in solar photovoltaic potential across all studied stations, likely to continue. This will negatively impact solar energy production.
  • Reduction in Global Radiation (GR): Significant decrease observed throughout the country except the northwest. Increased atmospheric turbidity and cloudiness are attributed factors.
  • Increase in Diffuse Radiation (DR): Over 50% of stations, especially northwest and parts of peninsular India, showed a rise in DR.
  • Decrease in Bright Sunshine Hours (BSH): 75% of stations exhibited a significant decrease in BSH. Annual BSH is high in northwest India but low in north, northeast, and south.
  • Causative Factors: Increased aerosol load (fine particles from emissions and dust) and clouding are identified as key reasons. Aerosols absorb sunlight and promote cloud formation, both hindering solar energy reaching the ground.
  • Global Trends on Solar Radiation: Studies show aerosols’ role in blocking sunlight since the 1980s, with variations over time and location. Global solar radiation showed a general decline (1981-2006) with a reversal after 2001 (unclear causes).

Significance of Solar Energy

  • Impact on Climate: Solar radiation plays a crucial role in Earth’s climate by governing surface-atmosphere energy exchange. It influences global energy balance and climate patterns.
  • Reliance Across Sectors: Agriculture, energy, industry, and other sectors directly or indirectly depend on incoming solar radiation.
  • Clean Energy Source: Solar energy is a recognized alternative to conventional energy sources. It’s a key renewable resource to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
  • Self-Reliant Energy Generation: Solar energy promotes self-sufficiency in energy production, lessening dependence on foreign sources.

India’s Solar Energy Capacity

  • Current Status: India’s installed solar power capacity stands at around 81 GW (17% of total electricity). Major solar parks are located in northwest India (Gujarat and Rajasthan).
  • Ambitious Goals: India aims to source nearly half its electricity (around 500 GW) from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. This translates to at least 280 GW from solar power, requiring an annual addition of 40 GW solar capacity until 2030.

Way Ahead

  • The decreasing trend in solar power potential necessitates the widespread adoption of more efficient solar panels to meet energy demands through solar resources.


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