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Government's 100,000 – MV Solar Energy Plan, Discuss

Talking about utilizing energy from natural resources, earlier concept like solar energy ,tidal energy, solar energy, nuclear energy all appear to be farfetched since the condition of our country is worse due to illiteracy and population explosion. In the present era, where advancement is going next level in field of defence and aircraft, still there are many cities villages where people don�t get electricity or water by any means and to provide them these basic amenities which require change in thinking of the society in general. For this very reason, the present government is trying to tap energy from the Sun to meet the on growing demand of the industries and meet the needs of the people in general. So where to start?

The basic problem lies and even the solution lies in the storyline of a 2004 Bollywood movie called �Swades� which had flopped actually that time. In that movie the famous actor Shahrukh Khan was seen trying to help village in terms of education and advancement, after leaving his job in NASA and thus the story header as �Swades�.With the advent of NITI committee with various capable scientist presiding over it we can also dream a nation which we wanted, so let us first discuss the positive side of the program of solar energy generation first and the various plans.

Keeping the aim of welfare of the country, the Narendra Modi led government is conspiring plan to build a 100,000-Mw solar energy capacity by 2022 through award of 10,000-Mw projects in the coming three months .The plan has included close to 3300 Mw of capacity to be set up by NTPC alone while tendering 3,000 Mw under the power bundling scheme , 2,500 Mw by Solar Energy Corporation, around 2,500 Mw in Madhya Pradesh including the first solar UMPP of 750 Mw through a joint venture company, the Solar Energy Corporation will be building a capacity for 2,500 Mw of power, also other states like Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are likely to set up 250-Mw capacity will be setting solar energy parks. NTPC has a 6 year plan to harness 25,000 Mw of solar power with commitment of building 10,000 Mw itself and the tender balance to private players with unutilized thermal power and sell at an average rate. The main benefit from this can be getting electricity and hot water at cheaper rate and going towards even induction vessels for cooking and hence providing cheaper source of energy. While states such as Madhya Pradesh with building capacity for 2,500 Mw, But there are certain set back factors which the state governments� faces like problems in feeding solar power to the grid. Other constraints or achievement factor for this project are the local capacity for solar equipment. As per the renewable energy ministry, of the 1,260 Mw solar cells installed in the country, from which only 240 Mw is operational, while the yearly requirement is 3,000 Mw. This is nearly 10-15 times the actual production and the power producers will have to import solar cells. If they import it, the Chinese solar cells will cost 58-61 cents per watt, others from Singapore, the US, Canada, Japan and the EU is 75-90 cents while locally made cells cost only 44-48 cents which tends to be big setback. But excess capacity in the international market and increasing demand from countries like India are likely to pull down solar energy input costs.

Experts and investors presently are waiting for government policy which would allow the companies for investments bigger than 1000 crore in single solar power plant so that their profits could improve. Also the government is rolling out giant tenders for solar power projects on the lines of ultra mega power projects of 4000 Mw.Scaling up solar power generation will also depend on tariffs and grid parity with thermal power. The price of solar power has fallen 60 per cent in three years to Rs 6.5-7 a unit. The latest batch of bids in the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission had set a tariff of Rs 5.45 per unit, supported by viability gap funding. Solar power plants require huge land acquisition and it is very cumbersome presently since it�s difficult to find such huge areas so instead the solar power generation should be on existing infrastructure like canals, highways and large rooftops like those at railway stations. We should aim for lacs of low power PV (500 watts or less) from the households on the 230 volt utilization network using micro-inverters. The grid will then have the stomach to handle 200 watts from the house. Connecting a 250 W PV panel, costing Rs 20K and its associated micro-inverter, costing Rs 10K to the 230 V network is as easy as connecting a tube light to the same network. For 'Make in India' solar panels but also micro-inverters and solar panels with integrated micro-inverters (Module Integrated Converters) can also be made in India and used in India.

Shweta Iyer