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India's overall energy production in 1995 was approximately 8.8 quadrillion Btu (quads), while consumption was 10.5 quads. India's energy demand is increasing, and its inability to step up production to meet demand, has increased India's reliance on costly imports, the gap between consumption and production projected to widen into the next century, as demand for energy is projected to grow at an annual rate of 4.6% - one of the highest in the world (EIA, 1998). Energy for developing industries, transport, and a drive towards the electrification of India over the last three decades of an expanding residential sector, so that currently, a great percentage of villages in the subcontinent have access to the grid- as much as 90%, according to recent figures (EIA, 1998), have contributed to the energy production deficit
Energy is a key input to economic growth and for improved quality of life. Continued access to unrestricted supplies of energy is of major importance to all economies. India's Energy Policy till the end of the 1980s was mainly asked on availability of indigenous resources. Coal was by far the largest source of energy. Things have changed since then. Coal and lignite's share in the commercial energy as come down further, the reason being on-availability of good quality coal and lso environmental issues. In order to fill up the gap between demand and supply, renewable energy has to play a major role in India. Out of many forms of renewable energy sources, solar energy appears to the most attractive.
One route is by collecting Solar Energy as heat through concentrating Solar Collectors and converting this heat into electricity using a typical thermal power generating unit. This is known as solar thermal power generation. The other route is by using Solar cells to convert the radiation from the Sun directly to electricity. This is called Solar Photovoltaic power generation. Sunlight can be converted to electricity due to the photovoltaic effect discovered in 1839 by Edmund Becquerel a French scientist. Sunlight is composed of photons or packets of energy.