01:32 GMT +318 March 2018
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    Going Green: India Moves to Become Top Solar Energy Power

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    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Cabinet have approved a five-fold increase in the country’s solar power by 2022, with a plan to make the country one of the largest green energy producers in the world.

    Under the new plan, India’s solar power capacity target has been raised to 100 gigawatts (GW), up from 20 GW. The ambitious goal will entail a whopping $100 billion, or 600,000 crore rupee, investment.

    "With this ambitious target, India will become one of the largest green energy producers in the world, surpassing several developed countries," a statement from the ministry of information said. "Solar power can contribute to the long term energy security of India, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels that put a strain on foreign reserves and the ecology as well."

    This new solar target, according to the statement, will also lead to a reduction of over 170 million tons of carbon dioxide.

    The announcement comes as officials aim to bring power to roughly 400 million Indians currently living without it. Solar power and renewable energy has become an attractive option for India’s leaders, as they contend with current power deficiencies and the rising costs of fossil fuel-generated power. With a population of 1.2 billion people, the country’s cities also have some of the worst air pollution in the world.

    The solar capacity, according to the statement, will be split between residential and large-scale projects.

    "The target will principally comprise of 40 GW rooftop and 60 GW through large and medium –scale grid-connected solar powered projects."

    The new solar target also significantly raises the stakes for the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, the initiative launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2010 with the goal of helping the country achieve success with solar energy deployment. As part of the Mission, the government will provide 15,050 crore rupees, roughly $2 billion, as capital subsidy during the first phase of the project.

    According to the consultancy firm Bridge to India, the country is on track to install 31 GW by 2019, meaning that it will have only three short years to install the remaining 69 GW to meet the 2022 deadline.

    The group also cites a number of other potential challenges and setbacks for the government, including land acquisition and grid infrastructure. Financing is also a big issue, with Bridge to India estimating it would take roughly $40 billion of debt for the country to reach its 2022 deadline.  The country expects the majority of this to come from international sources like the World Bank and international solar companies.

    The statement adds that the “Government of India may also approach bilateral and international donors, also the Green Climate Fund for achieving this [solar energy] target.” A $10 billion international initiative, the Green Climate Fund aims to help countries develop in a low-carbon capacity.

    Other groups will include the US-based SunEdison, which is planning to install more than 10 GWs of solar capacity within the next seven years, and Adania Power, an Indian power generation company that plans to set up the a 1GW facility in Rajasthan, making it the largest solar farm in the country.

    All in all, Bridge to India estimates that the country will install more solar than Germany this year, and become one of the top five solar markets globally, after China, Japan, the US and the UK.


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