Push for solar dream


The inauguration of the 750- megawatt Rewa solar power plant in Madhya Pradesh, one of the largest in Asia, comes as a big boost to India’s ambitious plans to harness solar energy. However, the big challenge before the country is to reduce dependence on China for power equipment. Following the violent stand-off at the Galwan Valley on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Centre announced that India would no longer import power equipment from China and Pakistan. The country imported power equipment worth Rs 71,000 crore in 2018-19, of which Rs 21,000 crore was spent on Chinese equipment. The fast-growing domestic market for solar components is dominated by Chinese companies due to their competitive pricing. India will be able to fully use its solar power potential if it ramps up the manufacturing capacity for solar panels and batteries. This assumes significance given that green energy projects now account for more than a fifth of India’s installed power generation capacity. India has 34.6 gigawatt (GW) of solar power, with an aim to have 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. The surge in imports had prompted the NDA government in its previous term to impose a safeguard duty from July 2018 on solar cells and modules imported from China and Malaysia. Next year, the basic Customs duty of 40% on solar modules and up to 25% on solar cells is set to be imposed. India plans to go for more tariff and non-tariff barriers to check imports from China as part of its economic strategy against the backdrop of recent border tensions. The talk of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ will have traction when India achieves self-sufficiency in power technologies. There is a need to provide subsidised financing for promoting local power equipment usage and increasing domestic capacity.

Prolific solar power-producing States like Telangana, which is ranked second in the country, will help achieve the target of one lakh Mw of renewable energy by 2022. Telangana has a total installed solar energy capacity of 5,000 Mw, which includes grid-connected and standalone rooftop solar units. The State has opted for a distributed solar installation model, which has managed to earn it Rs 450 crore in the form of savings. Instead of concentrating these projects at a single location, it has spread them across 180 locations. The Rewa solar plant, a joint venture between Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited and the Centre’s Solar Energy Corporation of India, is the first such project to get funding from the World Bank and Clean Technology Fund in India. At a time when the world is grappling with climate change concerns, India has emerged as a clean energy champion with ambitious renewable energy targets.

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