Energy is central to achieving India’s development goals and what happens in one of the world’s most populous nations will undoubtedly influence the global energy economy. This is where the Solar India mission fits in with its ambitious target of 20,000 MW by the March 2017.
India has set an ambitious target of adding 175 GW power generation capacity from renewable sources by 2022, of which 100 GW will be solar and 60 GW will be wind energy. As the Narendra Modi led government has demonstrated across different sectors, it is not all about tall targets but also backing it up with deliverables.
“There is a very focussed effort to meet the 100GW solar energy target by 2022 and we are very confident that we will be able to do that,” said Indian power minister Piyush Goyal.
It is his relentless drive towards achieving the tough targets that has set India on the path to beat even Germany and China. While Germany adds 3,000-4,000 MW to its solar power generation annually, China adds around 11,000-12,000 MW a year. India has set its sights even higher at 15,000 to 16,000 MW of solar power generating capacity annually to meet its own goals.
According to India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the total installed solar power generation capacity is likely to cross the 9,000 MW mark by the end of this month from the existing 5,248 MW and will be over 20,000 MW by the March 2017.
Tenders for solar projects totalling a capacity of 15,177 MW have already been completed and a total capacity addition of 12,161 MW is expected during the financial year 2016-17, which will increase India’s solar generation capability to 21,199 MW by March next year, the MNRE numbers claim.
The Indian government is targeting an investment of $250 billion into power generation and transmission by the end of the decade. Of that amount, $100 billion is aimed at renewable energies led by solar power.
According to experts, over $100 billion of finance is already in place over the past year and the country’s push towards solar energy will make it the fourth-largest market for solar panels over the next two years.
The Economic Survey released just before the Annual Budget last month pointed out that renewable energy targets have been revised upwards – from 32 GW to 175 GW – to give a policy push to the renewable sector and sustainable development. Grid parity for solar generation is on its way to becoming a reality with auctions under the National Solar Mission resulting in all time low tariff of Rs. 4.34 (under $1) per KWh.
A vision of solar supremacy for the country relies on abundant sunshine all year round – which is a reality for most regions in India. Therefore, the International Energy Agency forecasts India will be the driver in solar energy for the next 25 years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s grand International Solar Alliance at the Paris Summit last December was a clear attempt at taking charge of this global agenda.
“The dream of universal access to clean energy is becoming more real. This will be the foundation of the new economy of the new century,” he told the world leaders gathered at COP21.
All indications are that India has bet on the right resource. The price of solar power has plummeted in recent months to levels rivaling that of coal, positioning the renewable source as a viable mainstream option in a country where 300 million people live without electricity.
Solar prices are now within 15 per cent of coal, according to KPMG. If current trends hold, the consultancy predicts electricity from solar will actually be 10 per cent cheaper than domestic coal by 2020.