Solar Power

DQW Bureau
New Update


The formation of STFI re-emphasizes the potential of solar energy in

India. But when can we expect real action?

Mehak Chawla

Seems like the Sun God(s) are on a roll. Although there have been chants and

prayers since long, the true purpose of any God, that of enriching his/her

followers, is becoming clearer by the day for the Sun deities.

Much beyond pure reverence, the sun is now being used to light people's lives

literally. Solar energy is something that has been creating a buzz for a while



Recognizing this, our Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh launched the

Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission earlier in the year, with a clarion call

to the industry to create solar valleys on the lines of silicon valleys that are

spurring across the Indian IT industry.

The mission aims to achieve the target of 20,000 MW of solar energy

generating capacity by the end of the 13th Plan, which although sounds highly

ambitious is still doable-even the PM admitted this. It also targets 1,100 MW

grid solar power, 7 mn sq meters solar collectors and 200 MW off grid solar

applications in the first phase by 2013, and 20,000 MW grid solar power, 20 mn

sq meters solar collectors and 2,000 MW off grid solar applications by the year


Close to 55 percent greenhouse gas emissions are coming from the power sector

alone. And considering the demand there, the government is under tremendous

pressure to use green sources in the power sector, and look at renewable energy

in a big way.


However, while the relevance of the solar power industry is by no means

insubstantial to the country, it has been so far operating in a rather isolated

and un-coordinated manner. And well, with the formation and official launch of

Solar Thermal Federation of India (STFI), the start has been made.


STFI, though it was launched only a few days back, has in fact gone through

a long ideation phase. The basic idea, of course revolved around bringing the

industry together under one umbrella.

However, the real purpose of the foundation was to tap the tremendous

potential for exploiting solar power that this country holds. During the last

several years, Jaideep Malaviya, CEO, STFI, has been involved in mapping up the

power hubs across the globe. During this process, he managed to figure out and

prove that India is not only an exciting market, rather it also holds extreme

potential in terms of deploying, manufacturing and utilizing solar thermal



In short, there is a lot of money to be made, and if the industry works in a

collaborative manner, then this money can be multiplied. And this is not about

manufacturers alone, though it is an association for them.

There is big use of technology involved both in the manufacturing and

installation of solar energy, and needless to say as we progress, this

technology is only yet to get more sophisticated.

The Mission

The pan-Indian not-for-profit body STFI has been launched to provide a voice

and platform for the Indian solar thermal industry. Although the main aim of the

Solar Thermal Association is to expand solar water heating, but also promote

applications beyond that.


Primary on the agenda of STFI is evolving an appropriate policy framework and

user-friendly financing mechanism to make this target realizable by working in

close coordination with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of

Power and Ministry of Urban Development. Another important focus would be to

enhance the competitiveness of the Indian solar thermal industry through

continuous investment in R&D besides market awareness/development. Taking the

focus beyond solar water heating in terms of solar thermal applications to

expand the market scope and horizons for constituent players is also on agenda.

One of the immediate action items of STFI would be to develop trained talent

pool which is proficient in installation and maintenance through a launch of a

common industry-accepted certification program on a pan-India basis.

Growth Potential

As per estimates, the installed solar thermal industry stood at 3.5 mn m2 as

of December 2009. According to some fresh estimates, it has already crossed the

5 mn m2 mark.

As of now, India holds only 1percent of the total global thermal

installation. However, according to some studies, this percentage could go up to

5percent in the coming half decade.

Courtsey: DQ