Solar power can play a significant role in a secure and diversified energy future for India as the country becomes a hub for solar projects. More specifically, concentrated solar power (CSP) could have a unique role in India’s energy mix. Its potential to use hybrid technologies and easily add storage could unlock dispatch able and base-load power, setting the stage for larger renewable energy penetration. CSP is currently more expensive than photovoltaic (PV) technology, and projects take longer to set up; CSP plants need more water per unit of electricity produced.
For a country where access to affordable electricity and the stability of its grid infrastructure are both critical priorities, it would be an error to impose a false choice between PV and CSP technologies. Both are needed to diversify India’s electricity sources and make access to electricity more sustainable, affordable, and predictable.
The CSP market has to be evaluated on its own merit. The Indian government may have to continue to foster CSP development at this stage, even as PV projects progress on the back of rapidly falling PV module prices. Appreciating the unique roles that both CSP and PV can play in the energy mix is key to ensuring flexible policy emphasis on each solar technology. Using the right mix of energy resources in India, we can ensure a steady grid flow of electricity.