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India To Start Installing 20,000 MW Solar Power
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India could start installing 20,000 megawatts of solar power capacity as early as April after companies pledged to support the government's drive for clean energy, an official said.
The solar power plan has drawn commitments from US, German and Chinese companies, said Upendra Tripathy, secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
"We have got commitments from very established industry, both foreign and domestic for next year," he said in an interview.
Foreign companies will be allowed to decide where they manufacture the required equipment, he told Reuters.
The rapidly falling cost of solar power, which is expected to reach parity with conventional energy by 2017, has ignited interest in its potential in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has looked to industry for help in funding what could be a $100 billion expansion in clean energy.
For its part, the government will have to find the land required to build the solar panels on.
Modi aims to make India one of the world's largest renewable energy markets, targeting 100,000 MW of output by 2022 from just 3,000 MW currently.
One megawatt can power roughly 1,000 US homes although this varies widely, depending on the amount of heating or cooling needed, for example.
Despite more than 300 days of sunshine a year, India relies on coal for three-fifths of its energy needs while solar supplies less than 1 per cent.
US-based First Solar and SunEdison Inc, Canadian Solar and China's JA Solar are among the companies keen to expand into India.
Yet analysts say India's target will be difficult to reach given the weak finances of electricity distribution companies that would buy in solar energy and the slow pace at which land for plants is made available.
"There's a lot of interest, but there are concerns as well," said Ajay Goel, chief executive of Tata Power Solar, one of India's largest solar manufacturers and a unit of Tata Power Ltd. "Who is buying the power and do they have the ability to pay?"
Essel Group has signed an initial agreement with the Rajasthan government for setting up solar parks at Bikaner and Jaisalmer at a total investment of Rs 4,000 crore.
"Essel Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Rajasthan to develop Solar Park at Bikaner and Jaisalmer with the total investment of Rs 4,000 crore," the company said in a statement.
The group is also interested in developing major infrastructure projects in the state for verticals like roads and waste to energy, the statement said adding, going forward, Essel group will explore and endeavour to setup manufacturing facility for solar PV module in future.
Essel Infraprojects Ltd is Essel group's flagship infrastructure company with verticals like core infra, green and integrated utilities.
EIL under its core infra has portfolio of 3,644 kms of road projects across the country whereas its green vertical has commissioned solar projects at Osmanabad (Maharashtra) and Gulbarga (Karnataka). Essel has emerged as major player in solar power generation with upcoming solar project in Tamil Nadu.