India to be solar energy leader awaits PM nod

Friday, 31 July 2009, 02:46 Hrs   |    7 Comments
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New Delhi: India's highly ambitious plan to make the country the global leader in solar energy is ready and awaits the nod of a council headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change will meet Monday to approve the programme that will add 20,000 MW of generation capacity by 2020 and make it as cheap as electricity from conventional sources.

It will need from the government 85,000-105,000 crore (850-1,050 billion/$17.6-21.7 billion) over a 30-year period, a senior official told IANS.

The outlay will start with 5,000-6,000 crore in the current Five Year Plan (ending 2012) and 12,000-15,000 crore in 2013-2017. It proposes to raise this by taxing fossil fuels, mainly coal.

The draft plan reads: "The objectives of the National Solar Mission are to establish India as a global leader in solar energy through:

* 20,000 MW of installed solar generation capacity by 2020 and 100,000 MW by 2030; 200,000 MW by 2050

* Solar power cost reduction to achieve grid tariff parity by 2020

* Achieve parity with coal-based thermal power generation by 2030

* 4-5 GW of installed solar manufacturing capacity by 2017."

A copy of the draft plan is with IANS.

Being renewable and easily available all over India, solar power improves India's environment and energy security at the same time, the draft points out.

The problem so far has been to produce this power as cheaply as from coal or hydel sources. This is the main obstacle to be tackled, says the document, by reducing the cost of solar power generation to 4-5 per KWH by 2017-20.

The plan envisions the development of solar energy in India in three phases.

"The objective in Phase I (2009-12) will be to achieve rapid scale up to drive down costs, to spur domestic manufacturing and to validate the technological and economic viability of different solar applications."

This will be done through promotion of commercial scale solar utility plants, mandated deployment of solar rooftop or on-site solar PV (photovoltaic) applications in government and public sector undertaking buildings, promotion of these applications in other commercial buildings, and mandating that at least five percent of power generating capacity being added every year will be through solar sources.

Vacant land in existing power plants will be used for this purpose, and anybody who produces solar power at home or office will be able to sell the excess back to the power distributor.

Solar PV panels will be promoted to charge invertors at homes and offices.

Phase II will run from 2012 to 2017 during which schemes which are found to work in Phase I will be scaled up.

Phase III, from 2017 to 2020, will see further scaling up with minimal or no subsidy. This envisages the installation of one million rooftop solar energy systems, plus solar lighting for 20 million households.

In the process, India will reduce its emission of carbon dioxide -- the world's main greenhouse gas that is leading to climate change -- by almost 60 million tonnes a year.

It will save 1.05 billion litres of diesel, a billion litres of kerosene and 350 million litres of fuel oil per year by 2020.

The plan advocates change in law to enable people to sell extra solar power they generate to utility firms.

A 10-year tax holiday and customs and excise duty exemptions on capital equipment and critical materials are also being proposed.

A slew of other financial incentives has been proposed, as well as the setting up of a strong research and development programme, human resources development and international cooperation.

If this plan succeeds, India will become the world's largest solar energy market.
Source: IANS
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