A place in the sun

Given India's large geographical spread and ready availability of sunshine, solar energy could be the answer to our energy shortage.

The average intensity of solar radiation received on India is 200 Mw per sq km. With a geographical area of 3.287 million sq km, this amounts to 657.4 million Mw. However, leaving aside land being used for agriculture, forests, housing and industry etc, only 12.5 per cent of the land area (amounting to 0.413 million sq km) can, in theory, be used for solar energy installations. Even if 10 per cent of this area is used, the available solar energy would be about 8 million Mw, which is equivalent to 5909 mtoe (million tonnes of oil-equivalent) per year. TERI estimates show that the country’s total commercial energy consumption could increase from 284 mtoe in 2001 to 1,727 mtoe in 2031 in a ‘business-as-usual’ (BAU) scenario. In that scenario, the available solar energy would be more than three times the estimated commercial energy consumption in 2031.

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