NEW DELHI: The government is aggressively accelerating the solar energy programme, and aiming for four giant plants of 1,000 Mw each. It also wants to bundle solar and conventional power to make renewable energy more affordable.
To achieve the target of commissioning of 20,000 Mw of solar power generation capacity ahead of targeted 2022, the government may redesign Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission while the scope of theElectricity Act 2003 may also expanded to push for higher utilisation of renewable energy. India has commissioned 2,650 Mw of solar power generation capacity, which is dominated by Gujarat with close to 1,000 Mw.
Besides promoting four large projects with over 500 Mw of installed capacity each, the government wants to move forward to eliminate bottlenecks for ongoing capacity addition programme for solar power.
To deal with delays in larger projects, the government has surveyed several sites and cities to assess the potential and viability of solar power in the country that receives adequate radiation during its 300 days of sunny days a year.
Piyush Goyal, minister responsible for three key energy portfolios — power, renewable energy and coal — held meetings with officers from the relevant departments and institutions recently. He assessed the progress of solar power projects and directed officers to facilitate the development to set and achieve higher targets in next phases of the Mission.
Goyal did not rule out possibility of setting higher targets or advancing the timeline of the Mission during his initial meets with the concerned government officials.
“Now that MNRE is under the same minister as power, synchronising of common issues such as grid connectivity and sale of power would be better. Policy delays hamper the investment, both domestic and foreign. With the clean energy sector receiving $7 billion worth of investment last year, about 70 per cent of which came from private players, we are hoping that it would double up by the end of the second phase in 2017,” said a senior MNRE official requesting anonymity.
In its election manifesto, BJP promised to introduce a comprehensive national energy policy that will also expand and strengthen the national solar mission. Soon after taking over his office, Goyal expressed his desire to learn from ‘Gujarat model’.
The status of compliance under the renewable purchase obligations (RPO) determined by respective state electricity regulatory commission was also discussed during the meetings, according to one of the government officers close to the developments.
“The Electricity Act 2003 does not deal extensively with renewable energy and state utilities cannot be compelled to procure expensive solar power through policies and regulations alone. There is an opinion in the ministry that the scope of Electricity Act should be expanded to empower renewable energy. It is believed that cost of solar power can be brought down by increasing the scale of demands for panels and equipment in the country,” he said.
Source : The Economic Times