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Can Solar Power Help India Achieve Its Climate Targets?

By Author: Nikhil Mehra
Total Articles: 33

The over-dependence on conventional sources of energy like fossil fuels has led to crippling pollution, dramatic public health problems and triggered a global debate on climate change. However, many of these nations, including India, can harness a cleaner, sustainable source of energy from the sun. After years of intense research, the technology now exists to power plants with cheap, clean solar power generation.

For India, a combination of solar energy projects and energy storage can be the solution to its increasing need for energy. Taking note of this fact, the central government has taken several measurable steps toward improving infrastructure and power reliability pan-India.

The approval for stepping up of India’s solar power capacity target under the aegis of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) by five times, targeting 1,00,000 MW by 2022, has been a important milestone in this direction.

The target will principally comprise of 40 GW Rooftop and 60 GW through Large and Medium Scale Grid Connected Solar Projects in India. With this ambitious target, India will become one of the largest Green Energy producers in the world, ahead of several developed countries.

The investment in setting up 100 GW has been estimated at approx INR 6,00,000 cr. As part of the first phase, the central government is providing INR 15,050 crore as capital subsidy to promote solar capacity addition in the country.

This subsidy will be used to fund Rooftop Solar energy projects in various towns and cities, providing the crucial Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for projects to be built with the assistance of the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and for decentralizing energy generation through small solar projects.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) hopes to achieve the target of 1,00,000 MW by setting targets under the three schemes of 19,200 MW.

Apart from this, solar power projects with investments to the tune of approx INR 90,000 crore would be developed using bundling mechanism with thermal power. Additional investments are expected from large Public Sector Undertakings and Independent Power Producers. Several state governments have also come out with solar policies to promote solar capacity addition.

The central government also has the option of approaching bilateral and international donors like the Green Climate Fund for achieving this objective. Leveraging solar power effectively can be an important factor towards the long term energy security of India, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels thereby saving valuable foreign exchange and conserving the environment as well.

The solar manufacturing sector is also expected to be a timely boost as a result of this long-term growth trajectory of solar capacity addition, which is also expected to boost the creation of technology hubs for manufacturing. Further the new solar target of 100 GW is also likely to abate over 170 million tonnes of CO2 over its life cycle.

This Solar Scale-up Plan is on the path of achieving its target of 40 GW by decentralizing solar power generation in the form of Grid Connected Rooftop projects, while the decentralized generation system will stabilise the grid thereby minimizing the investment on power evacuation.

Welspun Renewables has built some of the world’s largest and highly efficient grid-connected wind and solar power projects in India that have mitigated over 1.2 million tons of carbon emission.

Solar power generation and energy storage can contribute to India’s long term energy security and help achieve its climate change objectives.

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