A large recent auction of solar projects by the state-owned company SECI resulted in an all-time ever low tariffs of INR 2.36 which is around USD 3 cents per kWh. The 2000 MW tender saw good participation by both local as well as foreign companies. The lowest bid was made by Spain’s Solarpack with other companies such as Renew and Enel also being very near to that price. This new all-time low solar energy price is lower than the earlier lowest solar price by around 4% and shows that the current crisis has not really affected the industry supply chain as such.

Investor interest in India’s renewable energy industry remains extremely strong despite the recent setbacks that were experienced due to policy and regulatory issues faced in Andhra Pradesh as well as some of the supply chain problems due to the COVID crisis. While there has been news that financing challenges for Indian developers have increased and lenders are reluctant to lend to Indian developers, the low prices seen in the recent tender show that is not that much of an issue.

Solar India

Also, read COVID Crisis allows Indian Solar Companies to Opportunistically Rescind on Irrationally bid Contracts

The overall Indian power industry is going through a crisis with collections from consumers being difficult and the overall power demand going down with many industries and commercial establishments being shut. The renewable energy industry has done much better than the thermal coal power generation sector as the must-run status of wind and solar energy plants have ensured that the economics of the renewable energy industry remains robust. The low prices vindicate the strong business case of the solar industry and will help India move forward in its ambitious target of achieving 40% off its overall power generation capacity from renewable energy by 2030.

Power cuts can be very disrupting and interrupt your day-to-day jobs.

So, how do you load your run when power cuts occur?

Equipping your home with inverters is the lifesaver in these cases, and using them can also help be a little lighter on your pockets.

Given the environmental issues surrounding the use of conventional inverters, opting for solar inverters is a better option.

solar inverter

Solar inverters, also referred to as PV inverters, are types of electrical inverters that are designed to transform a DC (direct current) voltage from photovoltaic arrays into alternating current (AC). These currents are then used to power home appliances and some utility grids. These solar inverters are nowadays very common as the electricity costs continue to rise. Also, the solar inverter price is not high, which makes conserving energy for future use feasible. 

Types of Solar Inverter

The critical function of all Solar Inverter types is to prioritize the attached load. In the second priority, the inverter transfers the electricity balance into a battery or a grid. We choose the type of inverter, grid availability, power cut and load measurement as per the situation. You can search for a myriad of options under different solar inverter price online or offline.

Solar inverters are divided into three main types: 

  • On-grid solar inverter

Often known because of the grid-tie, these on-grid inverters are commonly used with on solar grid system. This inverter operates with electricity from the grid or power. An on-grid solar inverter will continue to run the load and send power to the power grid.

These inverters are fully automatic and smart with built-in safeguards that protect the entire solar system from any fault. Since the solar inverter price is reasonable, you can use them in urban and industrial areas where electricity bills are high.

Advantages Disadvantages
Utilization of 100% solar power. Don’t work without a grid.
No limitation of the load. No electricity generation during the power cut.
Export extra electricity to the grid. No battery backup.
Up to 70% subsidy on on-grid solar.
Less space for installation.
  • Off-grid solar inverter

An off-grid solar inverter, also known as a standalone solar inverter, is used in the off-grid solar system. They use solar battery and solar panel to draw DC power and turn it into usable AC power. The off-grid inverter is an independent system where no electricity is available such as in rural areas. The main advantage is that power outages and other technical problems faced by the utility grid will no longer be prevalent as you have your independent power network. You can invest without second thoughts since the solar inverter price is feasible when compared to other options. 

Advantage Disadvantage
Standalone inverter and system. Load limitation
Work even without grid/electricity. It cannot export the electricity to the grid.
No dependency on government electricity. Costly compared to on-grid solar.
Peace of mind with battery backup.
  • Hybrid solar inverter

The hybrid inverter is the combination of an on-grid and off-grid solar inverter. This inverter simultaneously controls the solar panel arrays for storing batteries and power grids. These modern all-in-one inverters are highly versatile and can be used in grid-tie, standalone or backup applications. The solar inverter price is a little bit higher when compared to the other two types. 

Advantage Disadvantage
Stand-alone system. Expensive compare to on-grid and off-grid solar.
It can work without a grid. Limitation of the load.
Store electricity to batteries.
Peace of mind with electricity backup.
Export excess electricity to Govt. grid.

Go Green with Solar Inverters

Receiving no electricity or experiencing power cuts can be bothersome, and you need some backup to supply the electricity in times of need. It is here that an inverter comes to your rescue. With best-in-class consistency and compliance with safety standards, there are reliable brands like Luminous that offer a range of solar inverters in capacities from 1kW to 50 kW. The solar inverter price is cost-effective, especially if there are long power cuts in your city. They come with a fast-charging mode for batteries in a short time when grid power is available. Luminous NXG comes with many built-in safety features. It continually monitors the health of your batteries and protects them against deep discharge, overcharge and short-circuit. Along with intelligent Solar Optimisation Technology – these solar inverters maximize the use of solar energy, charges from mains when required, and saves 1.5-3 units per day. So, don’t wait up and with the fantastic range of solar inverter price, buy the one that suits your requirements.

The Indian financing industry has seen a sharp slowdown since the IL&FS crisis with credit growth slowing down sharply for the overall Indian economy. This has a feedback effect where lower financing leads to lower growth which in turn leads to lower demand for credit. The Indian GDP fell to below 5% and there are signs that the coronavirus will result in the economy not really being able to accelerate growth in the coming quarters.

The Indian solar industry is highly dependent on debt given that solar projects typically see 80% debt which can increase to 85%. Major Indian banks such as SBI have stopped lending to the solar sector as they are seeing a buildup of huge bad debt from the power sector which has a lot of distressed coal-based thermal power plants. The private banks are also not willing to lend too much to the solar sector as the biggest lender to solar projects – Yes Bank is currently on the brink of shutting down due to bad lending decisions. The government is thinking of selling Yes Bank to one of the larger government banks because if Yes Bank fails then it will result in a major adverse domino effect on the overall financing sector as well as the economy. NBFCs which had sharply grown their lending books as the state-owned banks had retreated are also facing issues after the IL&FS crisis.

Also, read about the Banks That Provide Loans For Rooftop Solar Projects In India

Large Indian solar developers are desperately looking to offload assets from their balance sheet to raise liquidity to make payments for their loans as well as generate cash for developing new projects. Mahindra recently sold off its solar assets to Hong Kong based power group CLP India. The ACME group which is one of the top three solar developers also sold its assets to Actis as the company needed to pay debt to the Piramal Group. The Indian solar industry is slowly maturing with the stronger hands getting hold off assets at a good valuation as the lending tide recedes from the industry. CLP which is one of the largest foreign private power groups operating in India had not participated in the solar auctions and its strategy of not bidding too low is paying dividends as it can now buy cherry-picked assets at a lower price from the market.

Solar energy because of its versatile and modular nature can be used in a wide variety of applications, unlike other energy sources that can mostly be used in large centralized power stations and transmit power through a transmission and distribution network. Solar energy is already being used by millions of peoples in the off-grid mode for lighting, heating, cooling, and other purposes. With solar prices falling drastically over 80% in the last decade, more and more applications where solar is being used as a power source.

Solar energy in lighting can be found in solar street lighting where it has become quite popular even with the presence of a grid. Solar lanterns are also quite popular in energy and income poor regions such as Asia and Africa where it can replace fossil fuel-based sources. Solar energy is also starting to be extensively used in agriculture with the usage of solar pumps and small grid-connected plants directly connected to rural substations. Solar energy through CSP solutions also is starting to get some traction in heating and cooling purposes.

solar water pump

Despite the many advances that have been made by solar energy in different types of applications, the direct usage of solar energy in the water sector has not really made much progress. Water scarcity is one of the biggest issues facing mankind today with high rates of groundwater depletion being seen in many countries. High population growth and climate change-induced stresses have led to water becoming a big problem in many countries today. Desalination of seawater is one of the most energy-intensive processes and the usage of solar energy to directly achieve desalination can go a long way in solving the water crisis affecting many regions in the world.

Desalination technology has mostly used electric power and reverse osmosis to achieve its objective. However, the high costs of power and the membrane usage have not really allowed this technology to mature and scale. Now with the rapid advances being made in solar energy, novel solar technologies are being used to solve the water problem. A new “Solar Dome” technology that has been developed in the UK will be used to power a desalination plant in Saudi Arabia’s futuristic “NEOM” city. This Solar Dome will use the concentrating solar thermal technology to be reheated, evaporated, and precipitated as freshwater. This new solar technology is supposed to have a cost that is substantially lower than the traditional desalination process which is currently in vogue. If this technology matures and can achieve the cost objectives it has set out, then it could a long way in solving the issue of water.

The floating solar energy technology has been making huge leaps in cost reduction and technology improvement in the last couple of years, mostly under the radar of investors and consumers. The technology has become quite mature with large floating solar power plants being built across Asia, with China, as usual, leading the way.

Depending on the location, the solar power plant built on water now costs only 10-25% higher than that of a solar power plant which is built on the land. This means that floating solar power has also become competitive with that of fossil fuels given that land-based solar power costs only INR 2.5/kWh these days. The advantage of floating solar power is that it generates higher power due to the cooling effect of water and also prevents evaporation leading to water saving. Indian states have jumped on the bandwagon and Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, etc. are well on their way of developing large scale floating power plants on reservoirs in their respective areas.

Floating solar power has come up in a huge way in the last few years as there are issues in finding land to build large scale ground-mounted utility solar plants. This is especially true in land scarce geographies such as islands. India has also seen the prices of land double as landowners are opportunistically raising the prices. Every major country has huge water bodies which can be easily be utilized to develop solar power. India was one of the first countries to see the opportunity of developing solar power plants on the water with a policy to support the development of solar power on canals. Large reservoirs of water near hydro and thermal power plants are a perfect place to build solar power plants as they can utilize the existing transmission infrastructure near these plants to evacuate solar power. This reduces the cost for the solar power generation and also reduces the cost of building new infrastructure which may also be difficult.

solar-panels-on-the-water1

Also, read Can Floating Solar Plants Meet the Industrial Power Demand in West Bengal?

While the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has planned for a 10 GW capacity by 2022, this capacity can go up much higher as analysts have estimated that India can build 300 GW of solar capacity if it uses just 10-15% of its water resources for developing solar power plants. Like on land, solar is likely to beat wind on water as well. Offshore wind energy has been slow to get off blocks in India due to numerous challenges in regulations, policy, and infrastructure. Also, the costs for developing offshore wind energy are much higher than land-based wind energy. It seems likely that floating solar power will outshine offshore wind power in the future.

Plans to export solar power to other countries is not a new concept and the most famous example was Desertec where a plan was to build massive solar farms in the Sahara to supply power through undersea cables to Europe. This plan which saw a lot of traction and planning in the early 2010s never came into fruition and remained on the drawing board despite being backed by major companies such as ABB, Siemens, etc.

With solar costs falling by almost 80% over the last decade, exporting solar power may not seem such a far-fetched idea anymore. India recently unveiled a vision for a one-world one grid plan where countries could be connected through a massive grid which would supply solar power from sun-facing countries to countries which were facing away from the sun. This would solve the intermittency problem of solar energy. The Nordic Grid is a successful example of how countries can manage to increase their RE capacities by exporting power to neighboring countries.

A developer in Australia wants to build a 10 GW farm in Northern Territory which could supply power to Singapore through Indonesia. Note Singapore is an island which does not have much land to allocate to the large fossil or renewable energy power plants. Given the preciousness of land, it makes sense for Singapore to import power from countries which have abundant land which is unused. Australia gets very good solar insolation and it also has millions of acres of wasteland. It makes great sense for these two countries to partner together in power especially as it also helps fight climate change and reduce pollution.

The proposed Sun Cable project will also have 20-30 GWh of storage and transport power through a 3,800-km high voltage direct current submarine cables and cover 20% of Singapore’s power demand. The plant should be fully built up by 2027. Note these giant project often fail due to the complexity as well as due to the financial weakness of the developers. Building such a huge project will require multiple partners which can result in diversifying risk as well as bringing in the strengths for different parties.

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