India is all set to boost its solar power generation – from 3 mega watt (MW) to 20,000 MW by 2022, as envisioned in a new policy document, the National Solar Mission, which the government will unveil within a week, said Farooq Abdullah, minister for new and renewable energy, said on Friday.
“We will give a tremendous push to the manufacture of solar power panels and at a rate that people can afford,” said Abdullah, inaugurating an energy expo at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon. “India needs energy. But we have to get out of our dependency on oil imports from foreign countries. We need to think about lowering pollution levels.”
The country has set a target to build 78,700 megawatts of new power capacity by 2012. Currently, 85 percent of the solar panels made in India are exported because of the huge costs involved. A big challenge for the ministry is to encourage industries to manufacture them at low prices.
“Our job is to bring the cost down. Whether we are going to give a concession on import duties, whether we are going to give a sizeable subsidy to purchase solar power, all will be outlined in the mission," said Abdullah. “Unless industries make money, they will not come forward to establish solar power generation factories. So the mission has aimed to make the business profitable.”
Besides putting solar panels in areas where there is no electricity, the ministry has decided to install them at religious places that get a large number of devotees in order to create awareness.
Abdullah said the William J. Clinton Foundation, run by the former US president, is talking to the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan to set up 3,000 MW solar power units in each.
Apart from solar energy generation, the ministry has set a target to double wind energy generation by 2022 from the current 10,500 MW.