Gujarat kicks off Indian solar rush, as another state plans 1,000 MW solar park
- 25 July 2014
NEW DELHI: Indian states are racing to install solar energy in a bid to improve energy security, creating a nationwide ‘solar rush’ that has been propelled by success in leading states such as Gujarat.
The latest Indian state to announce plans to build a new solar project is Andhra Pradesh, which will install a 1,000 MW park to counter the state’s continuous power supply problems.
Andhra Pradesh signed a deal with the Solar Energy Corporation of India earlier this year that outlines plans to locate the farm in its Guntur district, according to Indian newspaper BusinessLine.
While many states in the country are beginning to embrace solar, Gujarat was one of the earliest. The state’s Charanka solar park, which was developed by Gujarat Power Corporation, now boasts 590 MW of solar power capacity, and also has the ability to convert rain water to energy.
Likely inspired by Gujarat’s success, the State of Karnataka is also building a 500 MW solar farm, and in May, Karnataka Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar announced the state will add 1,000 MW solar capacity to its grid over the next 15 months.
Libby Ferguson, States & Regions Director, The Climate Group, explained the importance of sub-national governments learning from each other's low carbon success: “The Climate Group brings together state and regional governments to stimulate the sharing and replication of successful low carbon policies. States in India are making important moves to promote low carbon development and we aim to work with them to ensure that the most successful policies are shared and replicated.”
India’s central government too, is planning to set up four ‘ultra mega’ solar projects across India, which will have further capacity of up to 4,000 MW. Agreed states that will host the projects are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
The newly formed Modi-led government has been clear on plans to develop energy security, which includes harnessing renewable sources such as solar energy, biomass and wind power, along with coal, gas, hydropower and nuclear power.
Speaking as he unveiled India’s Union Budget earlier this month, Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley emphasized the government’s refocus on solar: “We need to maximize our utilization of solar power. The existing duty structure incentivizes imports rather than domestic manufacture of solar photovoltaic cells and modules.”
The new solar project also coincides with the announcement that Tata Power Solar has partnered with Bajaj Finance to provide interest free loans to solar power consumers in India. All Tata Power Solar products including lighting devices, solar water heaters and power packs systems will be eligible under the new scheme, which is to be rolled out across twenty cities in ten states over the next few months. With immediate credit processing for items below INR 2.5 lakhs (US$4,159), this new initiative is certain to further incentivize the switch to solar.
Krishnan Pallassana, India Director, The Climate Group, commented: “We are seeing a solar rush across India, thanks to early adopters such as the State of Gujarat. With widespread power shortages in cities and off-grid villages still a challenge in the country, increased adoption of solar and other clean energy will only deliver a better, more prosperous life for communities and businesses in India.
"Over the past few years, India has predominantly taken significant steps in its green growth agenda. However in the years to come, solar power can drastically reduce India’s dependence on imports of coal and diesel generation, contribute to energy security, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
The Climate Group's Bijli – Clean Energy for All program, which is principally funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, is also aiming to bring more solar to India. The project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the lives of rural inhabitants in India, by deploying renewable energy technologies and improving infrastructure quality.
Image: Gujarat Solar Park by Gujarat Power Corporation
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By Clare Saxon