For quite some time now, India’s national solar power capacity target has been quoted as 100 GW by 2022, mostly on the basis of speeches from ministers and high level bureaucrats. But there has always been some hesitation in doing so, as this was never ‘officially‘ announced. At times there have also been controversies regarding specific details.
Thankfully, in the wake of a new announcement, these confusions can be laid to rest.
On the 17th of June the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval to ramp up India’s solar power capacity target under the National Solar Mission by five times, to achieve 100 GW by 2022. The target has for now been split into 40 GW Rooftop and 60 GW through Large and Medium Scale Grid Connected Solar Power Projects, and is expected to entail an investment of ₹6000 billion (~$100 billion).
Before formally accepting the new target, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) was asked to come out with an action plan. This now seems to be ready and a summary can be seen in the official press release.
MNRE intends to achieve the overall target under the three individual schemes of 19,200 MW each.
To begin with, a capital subsidy to the tune of ₹150.5 billion (~$2.51 billion) will be provided to develop rooftop solar projects across India. Additionally, solar power projects with an investment of about ₹900 billion (~$15 billion) will be developed using bundling mechanism with thermal power.
Further investment inflows have been planned from the large Public Sector Undertakings and Independent Power Producers (IPPs), with the state governments also coming out with state specific solar policies.
The government also has high hopes from the solar manufacturing sector which is expected to get a boost with the long-term trajectory of solar power capacity addition. Apart from creating technology hubs for manufacturing, this has a high potential to open up new employment opportunities.
Ambitious targets and the overall optimistic mood in the solar sector aside, the plans have faced some criticism. Some believe that the targets focus more on solar capacity addition than to provide energy access to the energy deprived. As DownToEarth quotes Chandra Bhushan, consulting editor of Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment,”The biggest social and economic impact of renewable energy will be providing clean energy to the energy deprived. But there are no incentives focused on developing decentralised energy-access solutions.”
Nevertheless, the big target was very much required to accelerate solar deployment in the country. With the way sector has been progressing recently, to be frank, the previous target of 20 GW seemed mediocre at best. Now whether or not 100 GW will actually be achieved is a difficult question to answer at this stage, especially in light of the very dynamic policy environment in the country. Let’s hope all the pieces fall into their place.
For our recent stories from the Indian solar market, continue reading here.
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