Dec 5, 2012 - India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) this week published a draft policy document for the National Solar Mission's second phase, whereby the country aims to have 10 GW of cumulative grid-connected and 1 GW of cumulative off-grid capacity by 2017.
The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) as a whole targets the addition of 20 GW of grid-connected and 2 GW of off-grid solar systems by 2022 in three phases. Phase one called for the installation of 1.3 GW, of which 200 MW off-grid, in the period 2010-2013. India's solar capacity rose from 17.8 MW in early 2010, before JNNSM was announced, to 1,044 MW as of end August 2012, the draft said.
While the first phase adopted a 50/50 approach for the deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal power technology, the document proposes that the ratio is changed in the second phase to 70/30 in favour of PV projects. The targets are 2.52 GW of PV capacity and 1.08 GW of concentrated solar power (CSP) capacity, or a combined 3.6 GW, to be installed under central government schemes during phase two. A further 5.4 GW of capacity for a total of 9 GW is to be deployed under state schemes.
The so-called viability gap funding (VGF), where financial support is provided to make projects commercially viable, has been identified as the main means of backing projects to be installed under central schemes. It would see bidders vie for VGF requirement per MW capital cost. The bidders with the lowest VGF requirement would be selected, according to the proposals.
The draft document also says that for the success of the second phase of the solar mission, states are expected to extend their support to the solar industry in various ways. A number of measures were suggested, including providing fiscal and financial incentives to solar projects, strengthening enforcement of the Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) mechanism and developing state specific solar programmes.
States are also encouraged to develop solar parks, for which MNRE will provide support based on certain criteria. Solar parks are described as a concentrated zone of solar development with a minimum capacity of 250 MW. State governments could designate and permit one or more blocks of land located in close proximity as a solar park and prepare the required infrastructure. Private or public investors will then lease the land to build solar plants in a clustered manner, the document says. The aim is to limit development uncertainty by sharing one and the same infrastructure.