India to produce 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022

The Government of India has set an ambitious target of 20,000 Megawatts of solar energy by 2022. This was revealed by Deepak Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, while delivering the keynote address at an International Workshop on The Private Sector and Climate Change: Opportunities and Challenges in the Emerging Economies.

According to the government’s solar mission plan, 20 million rural households will be provided solar lighting. It would also produce 20 million square metres of solar thermal area.

"This is an ambitious project. Perhaps, the biggest target in the world", Gupta told the workshop organised by Observer Research Foundation in association with US National Science Foundation, University of California and the University of Maryland.

He said 800 MW target has already been allocated in the current year. He said the first phase will have a target of 1100 MW and the plants will be allocated through competitive bidding procedure which has already brought down the tariff by an "astonishing 30 per cent".

Gupta said research in the area is going on quite successfully and the feeling is that India can be the low cost solar thermal supplier of the world.

Gupta said under the Rural Village Electrification Scheme, 7000 villages have been provided solar lighting. "The government is planning to provide solar lighting to 10,000 villages more in the next 10 years," he said.

Gupta said the government has plans to plans to produce power from rice husk as well and the pilot projects are going on quite successfully. "If we can produce 1000 MW of power from rice husk, it can save 400 million litres of diesel. I am sure we can reduce use of billion litres of diesel annually," he added.

Stressing on the importance of construction of green buildings, Gupta said the government has decided to go for 3 or 4 star rated buildings in future.

Gupta said while in 2002, the share of renewable energy in total energy production was mere 2.5 per cent, it has risen to 26 percent by the third year of the 11th Five Year Plan. "While the current electrical mix is 4.5 percent, we are trying to make it at least 6 percent by 2022 while our vision is 10 percent. This percentage is much more than in either US or China," he said.

Gupta said the government is promoting a new concept as far as grid power is concerned-that is 500 KW to 3 MW systems which will feed into the distribution grid, reducing transmission losses by 6-7 percent and increasing voltage and frequency performance. "This is an important area for India," he said.

He said the ministry has already approved a special scheme of 100 Mw for 1 or 2 MW solar power plants. "We hope that all this will be commissioned this calendar year itself," he said.

The government is also launching a new policy initiative of small biomass plants of 1 to 2 MW. Another big area is dedicated energy plantations with 1 to 2 MW plants at the tailend.

"We have set a target of 10,000 MW in the next 10 years," he said, adding 2-3 plants have already been commissioned. Besides providing power, this will also promote forests, he said.

Surendra Singh, former Union Cabinet Secretary and now Advisor to ORF, said despite 60 years of development since Independence, 37 percent of Indians have no access to electricity. He said India needs to take a balanced stance while pursuing faster growth which is required to alleviate poverty.

The workshop had in-depth sessions on "energy, growth and climate change", "energy technologies, renewable energy in India, models of technology transfer in emerging countries, solar power", "carbon finance" and "carbon markets in emerging economies".