Under global pressure to make deep cuts in carbon emissions, India is now planning to harvest the abundant sunshine in the country with a whopping Rs91,684 crore investment in solar energy.
The prime minister's council on climate change today approved the draft of one of the world's most ambitious plans on solar energy for generating 20 gigawatts of electricity from solar energy by 2020 from the current near-zero level, and to 100 gigawatts by 2030 and 200 gigawatts by 2050.
The prime minister's council on climate change, headed by Dr Manmohan Singh, met today for over two hours to discuss and fine-tune the draft plan of the Solar Mission.
The Solar Mission, which is one of the seven missions proposed under the National Action Plan on Climate Change aims to bring down India's greenhouse emissions by 42 million tones by using solar energy and bring the level its generation with that of coal-based thermal power generation by 2030.
To achieve that, India plans to reduce the price of solar power to the same level to that of fossil fuels by 2020. The plan proposes fiscal incentives to manufacturers and end users to use solar energy and do away with carbon emitting systems.
The prime minister and the members of the council have suggested that subsidies be given to the tune of Rs82,000 crore to attain 200,000 MW of solar power by 2050.
Currently, solar power costs approximately Rs15 rupees per kWh, which is nearly four times the cost of electricity generated by coal-fired thermal power plants. The plan aims to bring the cost down to Rs4 or 5 per kwh in the next 10 years.
The plan also proposes to have solar panels on all government buildings by 2012 and providing finance to almost 20 million homes to any left over excess power - a system prevalent in many European countries.
Experts although welcoming the bold and ambitious plans, are skeptical as to where the country is going to make available the massive Rs91,684 crore from. Some suggest that the Western nations should part fund it and India should make a strong case for it in the next climate summit in Copenhagen in December.