Sanjay Dutta

NEW DELHI: It’s official now. The government is reaching for the Sun by raising the target for adding solar power capacity five times to 100,000 mw by 2022. The Cabinet’s panel on economic affairs on Tuesday put its stamp on the grand plan that is estimated to cost Rs 600,000 lakh crore.

The Cabinet’s economic committee also approved a plan to set up 2,000 mw grid-connected solar capacity this year with viability gap funding under Phase-II of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

So is India poised to emerge as a solar powerhouse? Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasadwould believe so. “This is a giant step and India will become the biggest producer of solar power in the world,” he told reporters after the Cabinet’s meeting.

But one would have to watch out for China and Japan, apart from the US, before India can rightfully stake its claim to the numero uno position in this regard.

The Centre would provide Rs.15,050 crore as capital subsidy. “The ministry of new and renewable energy intends to achieve the target of 100,000 mw with three schemes of 19,200 mw… Apart from this, projects with investment of about Rs 90,000 crore would be developed using bundling mechanism with thermal power,” a government statement said.

The total investments expected under the viability gap funding scheme is about Rs 12,000 crore. The estimated requirement of funds to provide VGF for 2,000 mw capacity is estimated at Rs 2,100 crore.

Installation of 2,000 mw solar plants will generate about 3,320 million units per year, which could power almost one million households. Funds for providing VGF will be made available from the National Clean Energy Fund operated by the finance ministry.

“Further investment will come from public sector undertakings and independent power producers. State governments have also come out with state specific solar policies to promote solar capacity addition,” Prasad said.

In a related development, International Finance Corp (IFC), the World Bank’s private financing arm, said it has subscribed to $35 million worth of 10-year non-convertible debentures issued by PTC India Financial Services to boost long-term financing for renewable energy projects.