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India to boost renewables by over $800 million in 2020

In India, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been given an annual increase of 10.62% or INR57.53 billion (US$806.65 million) in the country’s 2020 national budget.

The energy sector as a whole has been allocated a budget of INR220 billion (US$3 billion).

Up to INR21.5 billion (US$301.46 million) has been allocated to develop grid-integrated solar energy projects. Off-grid solar projects will be developed using an allocated budget of INR3.66 billion (US$51.34 million).

Some of the most important points related to energy sustainability mentioned by the country’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the budget presentation include:

States and union territories will upgrade energy meters to prepaid, smart meters within the next three years to allow for consumer flexibility.

“Further measures to reform discoms would be taken,” when talking about distribution companies under financial stress.

Ageing, high-emission thermal power plants are to be shut, and the vacant land use for alternative use.

Government-owned land alongside railway infrastructure will be used for large capacity solar projects (project still a proposal.)

New domestic energy generation companies will pay a concessional corporate tax rate of 15%, on the condition that generation projects are operational by March 2023.

The government is targeting the development of 25.75 GW of solar for the Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan scheme to support the local agricultural sector.

India’s current solar pump scheme is set to be expanded to over 2 million farmers, with a further 1.5 million farmers permitted to install solar-powered pumps, which will sell excess power generated to the grid.

Sitharaman also introduced amendments to the country’s Customs Tariff Act of 1975, stating that the government will “Create tariff items 8541 40 11 for “Solar Cells, not assembled” and tariff item 8541 40 12 for “Solar Cells assembled in modules or made up into panels”. The tariff rate for these items is 20%. However, these items will continue at ‘Nil’ BCD.”

This clause relates to basic customs duty (BCD), which means there will be no such duty on the import of solar cells and modules into the country. “Unless the earlier notification is amended to exclude the solar cells and modules from customs duty exemption, the items will continue to have 0% duty,” stated Mercom.

This article was first published on Smart Energy International and was reprinted with permission.