India, the world's third largest carbon polluter, has set a bold new goal in an attempt to decrease dependence on coal and ease the country's power deficit. Taking baby steps, India's most immediate challenge is to produce 700 MW of solar energy this year. The long-term goal is to generate 20 GW by 2022.
This goal is highly ambitious considering the current green energy contribution of only 6% and the abundance of cheap coal within India's borders. Coal produces electricity for only 2 rupees per unit, as opposed to the 11 or 12 rupees necessary to receive one kilowatt hour of solar-based electricity.
As more solar projects and policies succeed, India's solar industry is expected to experience what is known as “grid parity” where solar costs decline and balance around the price of conventional energy. If successful, solar energy alone can power one-eighth of India's current installed power figure by 2022.
Solar Mission Building Bids
India's new program called Solar Mission allows investors to bid on the building of solar energy plants. Plants must be worth a minimum of $225 million in order to qualify.
The Indian government has already received an avalanche of pledges for its December batch of projects. Although India is considered to be a risky place to invest in solar energy due to the lack of data and trained labor, some businesses are viewing these deficiencies as an opportunity for enterprise and technology. In addition, India's government has an incentive package that offers capital subsidies up to 25% on investments in solar cell production plants.
India's National Solar Mission has three main phases. Each phase has a short-term megawatt goal: 1,300 MW by 2013; 10,000 MW by 2017; and finally 20,000 MW by 2022.
Phase one will take place between 2012-2013, and will focus on capturing low-hanging options in solar thermal energy and promoting help to serve populations that are without access to commercial grid energy.
The second phase will recap what was accomplished in the first phase and create conditions to prepare for large-scale competitive solar energy production. In 2017, phase three will complete all remaining tasks to achieve the 20 GW goal.
Solar Mission also has major goals for solar thermal and solar lighting systems: the government hopes to reach 15 million square meters for solar thermal collectors and to distribute 20 million solar lighting systems throughout rural areas.
India's Latest Power Deals
Gujarat, the first state to create a department of Climate Change, has struck a deal with Azure Power to commission power plants. Chief Minister Narendra Modi says that Gujarat will begin generating 100 megawatts of solar power within the next six months.
Gujarat and Rajasthan are considered to be hot spots for solar potential. Gujarat began its Solar Energy Policy in 2001 and seeks to further its solar energy research, create more green job opportunities and safeguard its natural resources.
Modi accuses the Indian government of unfairly allotting only 20 MW of solar energy to Gujarat despite all of the state's efforts to promote solar solutions.
The state's power agreement will allow Azure's solar energy to be purchased by the state for the next 25 years. the Azure solar plant in Kadoda village is one of the largest utility-scale solar plants in India. It is expected to attach an additional 5 MW later this year.
The International Finance Corporation, the financing sector of the World Bank, has invested roughly Rs. 180 crores and is expected to invest another Rs. 450 crores. Over 100,000 people in the area will avail of this solar-generated energy.
Some 1% of the nation's land area can meet the entire country's energy needs until 2030.
With nearly 250 to 300 sunny days every year, India has the potential to be a powerful solar receptor nation. According to Chief Minister Modi, Gujarat will continue to focus on the generation of solar power and green opportunities.
Key Statistics – Solar in India (source: Solar India Online)
- With between 250 and 300 sunny days every year, the majority of India receive between 4 and 7 Kilowatt hours of solar reception per square meter per day.
- India receives over 3000 hours of sunlight every year, or roughly 5,000 trillion Kilowatt hours.
- As of now, solar power contributes a little over 9.8 MW of energy, less than 0.1% of India's total installed renewable energy.
Key Players – Solar in India
- Chandradeep Solar, Neotech Solutions, Photon Energy Systems, Surana Ventures, RamTerra Solar Pvt Ltd, Tata Power, BP Solar, Moser Baer India Limited, Khandelwal Solar Power Limited (KSPL), Reliance Industries, Titan Energy Systems, Nano Tech Silicon India, and XL Telecom & Energy