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India Approves Solar Implementation Plan

The first part of a three-phase programme that could see 220 GW of new solar capacity installed in India has been approved, according to a statement from Gauri Singh, joint secretary to the government of India.

Following on from the country’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, the so-called Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) aims to see solar energy technologies in the country to achieve grid parity by 2022 as well as establish India as a global leader in solar energy.

Phase 1, now approved, will span the remaining period of the 11th Plan and first year of the 12th Plan, up to 2012-2013. Phase 2 will cover the remaining four years of the 12th Plan from 2013-2017 and the 13th Plan from 2017-2022 will be deemed as Phase 3.

Approving the targets, the government intends to foster 1000 MW of grid-connected (33 kV and above) solar plants, 100 MW of roof top and small solar plants connected to the low tension/11 kV grid and 200 MW of capacity equivalent from off-grid solar applications in the first phase of the Mission, till March, 2013.

An amount of Rs.43.37 billion (US $950 million) has also been approved for the activities proposed under the first phase.

Implementation of the 1 GW grid-connected target will be through NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), a trading subsidiary of NTPC Limited, the National Thermal Power Corp. NVVN will directly purchase the solar power from the project developers.

Meanwhile, the 100 MW of solar roof top and smaller grid-connected solar power plants will be connected via the local distribution utility and the solar power will be directly purchased by the companies concerned.

For the 200 MW of off-grid solar thermal and photovoltaic capacity additions, the government intends to implement the ptrogramme through a combination of low interest bearing loans and /or central financial assistance.

Regular reviews of the scheme are planned in order to “protect government from subsidy exposure in case expected cost reduction does not materialize or is more rapid than expected,” a statement from the government says.

By creating the policy conditions for both solar PV and solar thermal energy across the country as quickly as possible, the immediate aim of the Mission is to focus on setting up an enabling environment for solar technology penetration both at a centralized and decentralized level.

The first phase will focus on capturing low-hanging options in solar thermal; on promoting off-grid systems to serve populations without access to commercial energy and modest capacity addition in grid-based systems.

Ramping up capacity of grid-connected solar power generation to 1000 MW within three years, Mission targets also include plans to create an enabling policy framework for the deployment of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022, as well as an additional 3000 MW by 2017 through the mandatory use of the renewable purchase obligation by utilities backed with a preferential tariff. This capacity can be more than doubled – reaching 10 GW installed power by 2017 or more, based on the enhanced and enabled international finance and technology transfer. The ambitious target for 2022 of 20 GW or more will be dependent on the first two phases, which if successful could lead to conditions of grid-competitive solar power, the Indian government believes.

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