A review of India’s National Solar Mission by a committee of the Indian Parliament has revealed the massive extent of the government’s plans to reach the 100 gigawatts of installed capacity by March 2022.
Among the various schemes announced by the Indian government through the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, the largest is the 40 gigawatt program for setting up solar power parks. The initial target under this scheme was 20 gigawatts and was subsequently doubled to 40 gigawatts after significant progress of the first phase.
The government has identified 34 solar parks in 21 states with a cumulative capacity of 20 gigawatts, while land has been acquired to support the implementation of 71 gigawatts. So far, 7.3 gigawatts of capacity has been tendered, while 1.5 gigawatts capacity has been commissioned.
The government also asked the armed forces to set up 300 megawatts of solar power capacity, against which more than 350 megawatts has already been sanctioned but only 7 megawatts has been commissioned so far.
Government-owned companies have been assigned the task to commission 1 gigawatt of capacity of utility-scale solar power projects. Several companies have responded to the government’s call, and almost 1,040 megawatts capacity has been sanctioned so far, with 669 megawatts capacity commissioned.
A program of grid-connected rooftop solar power system is also being implemented. The targeted capacity under this program is 4,200 megawatts — 2,100 megawatts with subsidy support and 2,100 megawatts without any subsidy support. So far, 2,032 megawatts of capacity has been sanctioned, with 661 megawatts already commissioned.
Another large-scale program, which has seen very successful implementation, is the bundling program. Solar power projects commissioned under this program feed electricity to the grid, which is then bundled with electricity from coal-based power plants to reduce the overall cost of electricity and make it more affordable to power utilities. A total capacity of 15 gigawatts is envisaged for implementation under this program, spread across three tranches. So far, 3000 megawatts of capacity has been auctioned and PPAs for 2,750 megawatts have been signed, while 1,090 megawatts has been commissioned.
The Indian government also offers financial support for setting up utility-scale solar power projects. This program includes viability gap funding. Project developers bid for the lowest financial support required to set up a solar power project at a fixed tariff for electricity. A capacity addition of 7 gigawatts has been planned under this program, of which tenders have been issued for 5.8 gigawatts, and PPAs signed for 3.2 gigawatts, while only 80 megawatts has been commissioned so far.
Cumulatively, these programs will add 67.6 gigawatts of solar power capacity, if implemented successfully. In addition to these programs, state governments may also contribute with their own state-level targets. The government also plans to add 40 gigawatts of rooftop solar power capacity by March 2022.
Image by Barefoot College