The government took its push for clean energy to a new high on Wednesday, increasing more than eight times its financial assistance to set up rooftop solar panels connected to the grid and clearing the civil nuclear deal with Australia.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs jacked up the subsidy budget for the implementation of grid-connected rooftop solar power from Rs 600 crore to Rs 5,000 crore over a fiveyear period till 2019-20.
Looking to fulfil India’s commitment under the Paris climate agreement, the Narendra Modi government has set an ambitious target of generating 1,00,000MW of electricity from solar panels by 2022, with a 40,000MW contribution from grid-connected rooftop systems.
The increase in subsidy will generate up to 4,200MW of power from rooftop panels, the government release said. At present, India has just about 525MW of installed rooftop capacity, of which 143MW is residential. India’s total installed solar capacity presently stands at 4,684MW.
The subsidy will be available for home-owners as well as other establishments such as government and private schools and hospitals.
“Industrial and commercial sectors will be encouraged for installations without subsidy. This will create the market, build confidence among consumers and enable the balance capacity through market mode,” the government said in a statement.
While 30% capital subsidy will be provided for general category states and Union territories, special category states, including Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, would get 70% subsidy. Clean energy got another booster dose when the Union cabinet backed a civil nuclear deal that India and Australia ratified this year to bolster nuclear power generation, according to an official statement.
Signed last year, the deal follows similar agreements with the US and France and is a step towards India achieving international acceptability for its nuclear programme despite not ratifying the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT). With this deal, India will become the first country to buy Australian uranium without being an NPT signatory.
At present, just about 3% of India’s electricity is generated using nuclear power.
The country has nuclear reactors at six locations with a total capacity of 4,780MW, which it plans to increase to 63,000MW by 2032, adding around 30 reactors at an estimated cost of $85 billion.