The National Solar mission is part of the eight climate change missions of India. Building a solar India is a very ambitious dream but not an impossible dream as the sun is on our side, India being a tropical country with abundant sunshine.
For any country, it makes more sense to invest in multiple technologies rather than limiting itself to any one particular technology. With nuclear energy investments in India increasing, solar technology promotion will ensure that the energy demands of India are not based on a singular source. The mission targets achieving grid parity by 2022 and parity with coal based thermal power by 2030 depending on technological developments and global deployment.
“We will pool our scientific, technical and managerial talents, with sufficient financial resources to develop solar energy as a source of abundant energy to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people. Our success in this endeavour will change the face of India. It would also enable India to help change the destinies of people around the world.” – Excerpts from PM Manmohan Singh’s speech at the launch of the mission.
The mission is to work in three phases with a review of progress at the end of each phase-
Phase 1- 2012-2013 (remaining years of 11th plan and first year of 12th plan)
Phase 2- 2013-2017 (four years of the 12th plan)
Phase 3- 2017-2022
The basic stimulus for promoting solar power will come from Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) for power utilities with a specific solar component. RPO to be gradually increased while the tariff fixed for solar is expected to come down over time.
Salient features of the mission;
To create an enabling policy framework for deployment of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022.
To increase grid connected solar power generation to 1000 MW by 2013.
To increase it to 3000 MW by 2017 through mandatory use of RPO’s.
To promote indigenous solar manufacturing production.
To target 1000 MW by 2017 and 2000 MW by 2022 for off grid applications.
20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas by 2022.
To ensure that applications both domestic and industrial below 800 c are solarised. (Making solar heaters compulsory by incorporating it into building by laws and National Building code).
R & D Efforts:
To set up a Research Council (consisting of eminent scientists, technical experts) and National Centre of Excellence to implement recommendations of Research Council. Solar energy Centre of MNRE to become a part of NCE. NCE to work with ISRO and IMD for building solar database of the country.
Explore possibility of an Open Source solar Development initiative with CSIR.
Research will comprise the following stages
Basic research for development of new and innovative materials.
Applied research to improve processes and technologies.
Demonstration projects for on site testing of different technologies.
Support for start ups.
Development of R&D infrastructure in PPP mode.
HRD initiatives such as government fellowships to train technologists and scientists in foreign institutions; IIT’s and engineering colleges to be involved for developing specialized courses in solar energy; set up a National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education at IIT Mumbai.
Off Grid Solar Applications:The mission recognizes that off grid applications constitutes an important part as it can help to provide lighting facilities to remote areas which are far off and grid connection is not cost effective.
To provide solar lighting systems under remote village electrification scheme of MNRE. 90% subsidy for tribal areas.
To set up stand alone rural solar power plants in remote areas.
30% subsidy for innovative applications of solar energy.
Re finance facility through IREDA.
Fiscal Incentives:SEZ like incentives for manufacturing units which can include-
Zero import duty on raw materials, capital equipment and excise duty exemption.
Low interest rate loans.
Solar components to come under BEE star rating to ensure high quality.
Single window clearance mechanism for permissions.
The mission seeks not only to set up solar energy plants in India but also to promote indigenous production and research which can ultimately help in India becoming a hub for solar energy. Already, CSP systems with existing molten salt technologies that function six to eight hours after sunset are in place. The challenge will be to increase the efficiency to greater utilization during the off period. This can happen only through on site application testing and practical experience gained from running of such solar energy utilities.
The cost of generating solar power depends, inter alia, upon intensity of radiation, size of the solar plant, cost of financing, etc. The tariff for solar power is now being determined largely through tendering process. For installation of rooftop solar PV projects, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has worked out benchmark cost as follows:
Upto 10 kWp : Rs. 60,000/- per kW
10 kWp – 100 kWp : Rs. 55,000/- per kW
100 – 500 kWp : Rs. 53,000/- per kW
The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy is implementing Grid Connected Rooftop and Small Solar Power Plants Programme, wherein, Central Financial Assistance (CFA) is being provided for installation of rooftop solar PV plants in residential, institutional and social sectors. The CFA is upto 30% of the cost arrived through tender process or the benchmark cost prescribed by MNRE, whichever is less, in case of general category states/UTs and upto 70% in case of special category states/UTs.*
*As per information availanle through PIB based on a reply to question in the Lok Sabha, August 2018.