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India’s surge in solar power- Road Ahead

Solar ModuleMinistry of new and renewable energy, the nodal agency for renewable energy in India is currently negotiating a 1 billion loan with Germany’s development bank, and if it comes through then the fund would be used exclusively for rooftop solar plants. Germany has already committed a 1 billion loan for a green grid for evacuation of wind and solar power, the focus initially is on twin states of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu where renewable power generation has caught fancy early on. The new loan would be additional. Germany is a nation that has done pioneering work on rooftop solar power generation.

Many states in India are also coming up with new policies for solar power such as Rajasthan that aims to achieve the target of 25,000 mega watt (MW) production of solar power in the next five years. For this purpose, the state government has finalized amendments in Rajasthan solar policy, 2011. Among some major changes, the policy will also allow owners of land to lease it for solar producers for a period of 30 years. This period is extendable to a further 10 more years in case of mutual agreement. The state government has already passed amendments in ‘Rajasthan Tenancy Act 1955′ for this purpose.

A concrete policy on the new legislation will be put in place by February next year ahead of a renewable energy global investors meet and expo (RE-INVEST) to be inaugurated by prime minister Narendra Modi. This is in line with India’s commitment to enact a renewable energy act. At present, all electricity activities come under the new electricity act 2003. Globally, over 60 countries have separate legislations for renewable energy. Such a legislation would go a long way in streamlining many aspects of renewable energy, including consumer protection.

In India, the high cost of loans has so far acted as an impediment in funding renewable energy projects even though technology is available and space is no longer a constraint. The sector requires $40 billion investment, but it gets only $6 billion annually. India plans to use solar power to provide 24X7 power in all villages.

India will host its first RE-INVEST from February 15 to 17, 2015 in a bid to attract more domestic and foreign investments into the sector. The meet will be a follow-up to Modi’s Make in India initiative. Over 200 domestic and international investors will be participating in the event. Out of the 1 lakh mw renewable power generation proposed, 60,000 mw has been earmarked for solar and the rest for wind power.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has set a target of 100,000 MW for solar power in the next five years. To overcome issues of land acquisition and delays in obtaining clearances, the Ministry will set up a single window clearance mechanism and is in discussion with major States for setting up the same. To finance sourcing of components from the US for Indian renewable power project developers, IREDA (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) and the US Exim Bank would sign an agreement. The financing would span over a period of 18 years.

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