NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ramped up his target for solar energy as he bets on renewables to help meet rising power demand and overcome the frequent outages that plague Asia’s third largest economy, a senior official told Reuters.
India gets twice as much sunshine as many European countries that use solar power. But the clean energy source contributes less than 1 per cent to India’s energy mix, while its dependence on erratic coal supplies causes chronic power cuts that idle industry and hurt growth.
Modi now wants companies from China, Japan, Germany and the United States to lead investments of $100 billion over seven years to boost India’s solar energy capacity by 33 times to 100,000 megawatts (MW), said Upendra Tripathy, the top official in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
That would raise solar’s share of India’s total energy mix to more than 10 per cent. In Germany, a leader in renewable energy, solar accounted for about 6pc of total power generated in 2014.
India had earlier set an investment target of $100bn for the next five years for all types of renewable energy, with wind taking up two-thirds of the total. In an interview, Tripathy said Modi’s new solar target was ambitious, “but if you do not have a higher goal, you will not achieve anything”.
Canadian Solar and China’s JA solar told Reuters they are looking at making cells or modules — used in solar panels — in India. JinkoSolar Holdings said recent announcements have also raised their interest.
US-based First Solar and SunEdison Inc have sizeable businesses in India, and together with local firms will invest $6bn in India for the fiscal year to March 31. Tripathy expects new and existing companies to invest about $14bn annually starting next fiscal year through to 2022.
Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2015