Government raises 2022 solar power target 5-fold to 100 GW

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved stepping up India's solar power capacity target under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)  five-fold, reaching 100 GW by 2022, against the earlier target of 20 GW.

The target will principally comprise of 40 GW rooftop and 60 GW through large and medium scale grid connected solar power projects. With this ambitious target, India will become one of the largest green energy producers in the world, surpassing several developed countries.

The total investment in setting up 100 GW will be around Rs6,00,000 crore. In the first phase, the government will provide Rs15,050 crore as capital subsidy to promote solar capacity addition in the country.

This capital subsidy will be provided for rooftop solar projects in various cities and towns, for viability gap funding (VGF) based projects to be developed through the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and for decentralised generation through small solar projects.

The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) intends to achieve the target of 1,00,000 MW with targets under the three schemes of 19,200 MW.

Apart from this, solar power projects with investment of about Rs90,000 crore would be developed using bundling mechanism with thermal power. Further investment will come from large public sector undertakings and independent power producers (IPPs). State governments have also come out with state specific solar policies to promote solar capacity addition.

The central government may also approach bilateral and international donors as also the Green Climate Fund for achieving this target.

Solar power can contribute to the long-term energy security of India, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels that put a strain on foreign reserves and the ecology as well.

The solar manufacturing sector will get a boost with this long-term trajectory of solar capacity addition. This will help in creation of technology hubs for manufacturing. The increased manufacturing capacity and installation are expected to pave way for direct and indirect employment opportunities in both the skilled and unskilled sector.

The new solar target of 100 GW is expected to abate over 170 million tonnes of CO2 over its life cycle. This solar scale-up plan has a target of 40 GW through decentralised solar power generation in the form of grid-connected rooftop projects. While decentralized generation will stabilise the grid, it will minimise investment on power evacuation.

Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) was launched in 2009 with a target for grid connected solar projects of 20,000 MW by 2022. In the last two to three years, the sector has witnessed rapid development with installed solar capacity increasing rapidly from 18 MW to about 3,800 MW during 2010 -15.

The price of solar energy has come down significantly from Rs17.90 per unit in 2010 to under Rs7 per unit, thereby reducing the need of VGF / GBI per MW of solar power.

With technology advancement and market competition, this green power is expected to reach grid parity by 2017-18.

These would enable India to achieve its present target of 20,000 MW.