The cost of Solar Power in India is coming down. There are plenty of government subsidiaries in place, however, even without them the cost of solar power is still at around 9 per unit. This is coming from Tarun Kapoor, the Joint Secretary (Solar) at the ministry of New and Renewable Energy, part of the government of India. However, even with this low cost, they are still working hard to bring the costs of renewable energy down via the National Solar Mission.
The goal of the National Solar Mission in India is to increase the generation of solar energy in the country. This hopefully should be a pretty easy task. After all, the country is rich with sunshine. All that needs to be put into place is the right technology and strategies in order to harbour it. In the future, India hopes that the majority of their energy needs for their country comes from Solar Power.
One of the other intentions of the National Solar Mission is to turn India into a manufacturing hub for the production of Solar Energy. The mission is working with various Research and Development companies to come up with technology to help those who currently have no access to electricity. As with solar power in most countries, the success of this will depend on various government policies. The idea is that these policies will help increase growth in the sector.
Throughout the world, there is a lot of technological development taking place. The intention of the mission is to adopt some of these ideas, but also work on various pieces of research and development on their own. This will enable the technology to fit the needs of those that live in India. This is because in India the area is a lot dustier and they don’t get as much radiation from the sun, something which is important in the production of solar energy. All together this is going to create something which is going to be fairly high maintenance, and therefore costlier. The main intention therefore is to bring these costs down, which ultimately will reduce the price of solar power even further. The mission is therefore focused on much larger projects, which again will help bring down costs. They are looking to work directly with the government to purchase large volumes of power.
The mission has a number of policies in place to help boost production of solar energy. For example, their renewable Purchase Obligation for Solar Power starts at 2.5%, but by 2022 they are hoping to boost this to 3%. They are also monitoring the ministry to ensure that this deal is enforced by the various state governments.
At the moment, Phase I of the Solar Mission is almost complete. They manage to fulfil their targets for this way ahead of schedule. Phase II of the mission is set to begin soon. The target here is 3000MW of grid connected power. At the moment the government is working on a number of mechanisms which will make the purchasing of this power that much easier for distribution companies of solar power to purchase.
At the moment, perhaps the biggest concern for the mission is the high cost of solar power in the country. They claim that India is an incredibly price conscious market, and thus they will find it impossible to burden consumers with high costs, and thus they would stick to fossil fuel production, not helping the situation at all.
As a result of the missions work, the price of every unit of electricity produced by solar power has come down substantially. It originally started with every unit of power being priced at around 18, but now it is somewhere between 7 and 9. It could fall down even further in the future, and that it will be on par with the grid system.
The mission also has to tackle the lack of awareness about renewable energy such as this. For example, diesel generated power is priced at 14 or 16 per unit, with solar power being considerably less. However, the industry has yet to ‘explode’ because they really don’t understand the sector.
Various strategies are now in place to help bring down the costs of solar energy. One of the things that the Solar Mission is attempted to do is to encourage manufacturing of the systems at home. They are also working incredibly hard to cut down some of the taxes. The government is working closely with them to promote solar energy. This includes accessory depreciation for solar power plants, and tax cuts on the import and export of machinery in the sector. They are hoping that the energy companies in India become more competent and training is put into place.
The goal of the National Solar Mission is to have a generation capacity of 20,000 MW by 2022, a pretty ambitious dream, but they are confident they can reach it. Despite there being a number of technologies for Solar Energy, the mission is not pushing for a certain type to be adopted, they are leaving it up to the organisation to decide. At the same time they are coming up with a number of pilot projects to help find the best fit for India.
The rural areas of India are in abundance. This means that off-grid solar power is incredibly important for the functioning of the company. They have therefore put into place a number of programs to increase the amount of ‘off-grid’ power available. This includes a 30% subsidiary, and in some cases, this can stretch to 90%. At the same time they are working on a solar charging station project. This would involve the creation of 1000 solar charging stations as well as 10 mobile charging posts. Eventually this would lead to the creation of 6,000 solar charging stations. They are also working hard to set up mini grids in rural areas. They are also working with a number of companies where tube lights and solar panels are given. This could lead to a 40% subsidiary, with the rest of the money given as a loan.
The consultation process for Phase 2 of the National Solar Mission starts soon, there will be a number of meetings which will be announced shortly.