Solar power: Narendra Modi govt clears doubling of capacity target to 40GW

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The Cabinet committee on economic affairs on Wednesday approved doubling of solar power capacity in the country to 40 GW from 20 GW at present, enthused by the robust response from the states for the first phase of the solar parks scheme. The proposed parks and ultra mega solar power projects will be set up by 2019-20 with central government financial support of R8,100 crore, power minister Piyush Goyal said.

After completion, the parks are expected to generate 64 billion units of electricity per year.

The enhanced capacity would ensure setting up of at least 50 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW, Goyal said. The scheme would also allow smaller solar parks to be built in hilly areas. As many as 34 solar parks with an aggregate capacity 20 GW are presently at various stages of development across the 22 states.

The solar projects will have to nominate developers and identify land for the solar projects. It will be open to private entrepreneurs as well. The ministry of new and renewable energy would grant upto Rs 25 lakh to the developers for preparing a detailed project report. The Centre would also bear a financial assistance of up to Rs 20 lakh per MW or 30% of the project cost, whichever is lower, the minister added. Solar Energy Corporation India will administer the scheme.

While making the announcement, the minister said that the government also plans to integrate the agricultural community in the solar scheme, where farmers can become power producers to attain energy sustainability.

Solar tariffs are falling on the back of a fall in infrastructure costs and increased competition. The government’s initiative to raise the renewable component in the country’s overall power generation mix have also been a significant factor. The recent auction of the Rewa ultra mega solar park in Madhya Pradesh touched an all-time low bid of Rs 2.97 per unit.

To reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the country has set a target of 175 GW renewable power installed capacity by the end of 2022. This includes 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW through wind energy, 10 GW through small hydro power and 5 GW through biomass-based power projects. Presently, solar power comprises more than 9 GW to the total installed generation capacity of 310 GW.

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