While the 2GW represents a tiny fraction of electricity needs, it nevertheless shows the impressive promise of solar power. The rapid decline in the production cost of solar panels, and the increasing rates of efficiency should soon make solar power competitive with gas powered plants. In fact, some experts say, this could happen as soon as 2016. Otherwise the industry is all set to achieve a $1 per MW level by 2020.
India has been moving aggressively in the field of renewable energy, which is important given its ballooning electricity needs.
The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has drawn up plans to increase the capacity to 400 megawatts (MW) by the March 31, 2012 end of current financial year.
Bharat Bhargava, director at MNRE and in-charge of solar power projects, told Solarcon India 2011 here Wednesday that bidding process would be completed by the month end for 350 MW under second batch of projects of first phase of National Solar Mission.
The mission is aimed at installing 20 GW of solar power by 2022.
Under the first phase, 1,100 MW power would be produced. Bhargava later told reporters that 218 applications were received for the batch two projects.
India had only two MW capacity when the mission was launched in January 2010 and by the end of October 2011, the capacity of 125 MW was on the ground.
“There are 35 projects already functional. This activity started recently. Wait till 2013 for it to, really take off,” he said.
Besides National Solar Mission, there are policies by various states like Gujarat, Maharashta, Karnataka and Rajasthan.
MahaGenco is setting up 125 MW capacity plant in Maharashtra. Tata Power and Reliance are building 40 MW plants each to meet their own requirements.
He said the cost of installation per MW of solar power had come down from Rs.20 crore to Rs.10 crore.
He suggested that Andhra Pradesh come up with its own policy as it has a robust manufacturing industry in Hyderabad.
On the land allotment for solar power projects, he said Rajasthan had allotted 8,000 acres of land in deserts while Gujarat has allotted 5,000 acres. “The projects are coming up in states where solar radiation is high like Rajasthan and Gujarat, parts of Andhra Pradesh and other pockets of other states,” he said.
Bhargava, however, said land would not be an issue once the cost reduces and rooftop plants are taken up on large scale.
He told the conference that the policies of MNRE had created a momentum and fine tuning was being done to provide more concessions to the sector.
Solarcon, the third edition of India’s largest event on solar energy, comprises an exhibition, a conference and parallel technical events.
The three-day event is certified by the US Department of Commerce, and features an exclusive US Pavilion with 14 leading US companies participating.