India Eyes 100 GW Solar Power Capacity By 2022

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While we have reported recently that India has hiked its solar power capacity target by five times and seeks to install 100 GW capacity by 2022, we’ll now consider some of the aspects of this enormous target.

Gujarat Solar Park

India’s recently announced target to install 100 GW solar power capacity by 2022 could make it one of the largest solar power markets in the world and put it in direct competition with China, which has also announced a target to achieve an installed solar power capacity of 100 GW by 2020. Essentially, India wants to do in five years what China plans to do in 10 years! While many believed that the initial target of 22 GW by 2022 would be difficult to achieve, there is an increased optimism regarding the new target. So what has changed?

A simple answer to that question is, the government. Following the world’s largest democratic elections earlier this year, the man who pioneered solar power in India ascended to the post of Prime Minister of India. Narendra Modi previously initiated the Gujarat solar power policy that attracted some of the leading global solar power companies to the Indian state. The policy led to Gujarat becoming the leading state in India in terms of installed solar power capacity, an achievement it has consistently maintained for the last five years.

Narendra Modi was clear from the word go that his government would significantly enhance the National Solar Mission. He has taken several measures to ensure that significant demand is generated and hurdles in investments are removed.

The Prime Minister has promised access to electricity for every household in the country by the end of the decade. India already has an installed capacity of 250 GW, dominated by fossil fuels, the additional electricity demand creates a massive opportunity for renewable energy resources.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India has already increased the solar power capacity it plans to auction and get installed over the next three to four years. The additional capacity is expected to come from state solar power policies. The recent state solar power auctions have attracted active participation from global leaders including First Solar and SunEdison.

The government is set to push for ultra mega solar power projects with capacities of up to 4 GW. A number of such projects are currently in various stages of development.

On the other side of the project size spectrum, things are looking good too. Small-scale projects that would cover thousands of kilometres of canals and millions of roofs are also catching up fast. State governments are trying to emulate the success achieved by Gujarat under Narendra Modi while he was the chief minister. A number of states are considering implementation of net-metering regulations to increase adoption rates in the domestic sector.

While policies and regulations are in place and the industry is also responding positively to the increased installation targets, whether the 100 GW target will be achieved or not would also depend on the removal of bureaucratic hurdles, availability of low-cost and sustained finance, and attractive tariffs.

Image Credit: Gujarat Power Corporation Limited

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