India’s solar energy capacity to surge

If all goes according to plan, India’s solar power capacity will grow six-fold to touch 300 MW by the end of this year, even as several enthusiastic states are commissioning solar power plants. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra are among states where solar projects are set to be commissioned in the latter half of 2011.

NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), the nodal agency to purchase solar power from independent producers, had last October signed MoUs with 16 developers to set up 84 MW capacity solar projects under the migration scheme to Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).

This January, it signed MoUs with another 30 developers to set up 620 MW capacity solar projects under the first batch of the phase 1 of JNNSM. Besides this, states such as Gujarat and Karnataka are pursuing solar projects on their own.

"There could be approximately 200-300 MW of solar capacity installed, but there are no guarantees. It all depends on whethera companies can get financing and execute," said Ameet Shah, co-chairman, Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd.

Wind power has added 2,000 MW to the National Grid, but solar power has added a measly 40 MW till now. The Centre expects 250MW to be added in the current year.

Major business houses such as Mahindra, Videocon and MoserBaer have already entered the solar sector. Shah felt there will be half a dozen companies with 50-100 MW capacity by the end of 2012. The Centre aims to build 1,000 MW solar power capacity by 2013 while; 22,000 MW is the target for 2022 under JNNSM.

"India’s solar market is still in a nascent stage with both national and state policies only recently beginning to take shape," said Raj Prabhu, managing partner, Mercom Capital Group, a clean energy consulting firm. "The second and third quarters of 2011 will be significant as financial and project deadlines become due," he said.