The recently-decided plan to go for a massive increase in solar power generation in the country will figure prominently in the statement of Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar when he tells the delegates at the Lima climate conference about the steps India is taking to combat climate change.
Only last month, the government decided that it will aim at producing 100,000 MW of electricity through solar power by the year 2020, five times than the original target of 20,000 MW under the National Solar Mission and that too at least two years earlier than the original deadline.
Javadekar, who is in Lima to attend the high-level ministerial segment of the climate change conference, told reporters that the government is planning for public and private investment of $100 billion dollars in the next 6-7 seven years to achieve the ambitious target it has set for solar electricity generation.
“It is going to be a game-changing programme. And the entire government is being geared up to achieve this. From the climate objective it is extremely significant because we will be getting rid of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide in avoided emissions,” Javadekar said.
“We are setting bigger goals for ourselves on the climate front. We are not required to do all this, but have to move on a low-carbon growth path. And we will be walking our talk,” he said.
Environment Secretary Ashok Lavasa said once the 100,000 MW of solar generation capacity is installed, about 130 million tonnes of coal every year would not need to be burnt. “That would be a lot of emissions saved,” he said.
The Solar Mission is part of the eight climate ‘missions’ that were launched under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. Of the three that will help India in saving on emissions, the Solar Mission is the most effective. However, the progress so far has been tardy. The total grid-connected capacity installed under the programme till now has only been 2970 MW. For the entire 12th plan period (up to 2017), the government has allocated only Rs 8795 crore (approx $1.4 billion).
Javadekar said all this will change very soon. “Our government is extremely keen on promoting clean and renewable energy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it one of his main goals. And we are taking a number of steps to achieve this target,” he said.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in Delhi has received proposals from state governments to make land available for setting up of at least 25 solar parks. Projects with 100 per cent foreign investment as equity will qualify for automatic approval. The government has also announced 10-year tax breaks for solar power projects. At least 30 per cent of the target, or about 30 GW, is to be produced through rooftop solar panels.
The process for amending the Electricity Act, 2003 is also underway for upward revision of renewable purchase obligation (RPO) targets which makes it mandatory for state governments to include renewable energy-produced electricity while purchasing from the central grid.
Javadekar said the government was also looking to install solar panels over canals, along rivers and in border areas to quickly ramp up capacity.
Javadekar said he will also mention in his address the steps his ministry had taken to crack down on industrial pollution, like the increase on pollution standards for the cement industry.