Dr. Farooq Abdullah on NSM at solar conclave

Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy hastermed the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission as “a historic andtransformational initiative of the UPA Government”.

The Mission was launched Monday morning by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in New Delhi at the Solar Energy Conclave.

Deliveringthe key note address on the occasion Dr. Abdullah said, three majorinitiatives have been planned under the National Solar Missionincluding creating volumes which will allow large scale domesticmanufacture, announcing a long term policy to purchase power; andsupporting R&D to reduce material consumption and improveefficiency and develop new materials and storage methods.

Theimplementation of the Mission will proceed on the basis of thetechnology advancements and cost reduction, which will be necessary forrapid scale-up and to achieve the target of 20,000 megawatts, he added.

Following is the text of Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s address, delivered on Monday at the Solar Conclave in New Delhi:

“ThisMission is named after India’s first and visionary Prime Minister,Jawaharlal Nehru. For him, India’s development needed to be anchored inits mastery over cutting-edge technologies. The Solar Mission is verymuch in line with his vision, which has made India today, a leadingnuclear and space power. He would have been equally keen and proud tosee India attaining the same level of advancement in solar energy. I amconfident, that under the leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister, DrManmohan Singh, we shall make India a Global Solar Power as well.

ThisMission on solar energy is one of the eight National Missions whichcomprise India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change. It has thetwin objectives of contributing to India’s long term energy securityand ensuring its growth in an ecologically sustainable manner. We areliving in a world of rapidly depleting fossil fuel resources whereaccess to conventional energy resources such as oil, gas and coal isbecoming increasingly constrained.

For the security of ourenergy needs, the deployment of renewable energy sources in our energymix is imperative. Also we cannot be oblivious to climatic andenvironmental dangers inherent in the large scale use of fossil fuels.In this context and in view of the high solar radiation over thecountry, the rapid development and deployment of solar energyapplications provides an effective and sustainable solution. Sir, yourpresence on this occasion demonstrates the commitment of the Governmentof India to develop and adopt clean energy technologies for thedevelopment of modern India.

The long term policy vision ofthe Solar Mission has been put together as a document, which has beenenriched by stakeholder discussions and inputs. I would like to thankall my Ministerial colleagues for their valuable inputs and support asalso Mr Shyam Saran, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister. The SolarMission will be implemented in three stages leading to an installedcapacity of 20,000 MW by the end of the 13th Five Year Plan in 2022.

Itis envisaged that as a result of rapid scale up as well astechnological developments, the price of solar power will continue todecline and attain parity with grid power at the end of the Mission,enabling accelerated and large-scale expansion thereafter.

Quiteobviously, in order to set the stage for achieving this ambitioustarget, what we do in the next three to four years will be critical.Our policies and programmes in the first phase of the Mission will becritical to guide and decide the future course of action. As we allknow today the initial cost of solar is very high, especially for gridpower generation. We aim to bring down the cost as quickly as possible.This will allow us to provide power to our villages and rural homes.

Wehave planned three major initiatives under the National Solar Missionto achieve this (i) create volumes which will allow large scaledomestic manufacture, (ii) announce a long term policy to purchasepower; and (ii) support R&D to reduce material consumption andimprove efficiency and develop new materials and storage methods. Theimplementation of the Mission will proceed on the basis of thetechnology advancements and cost reduction, which will be necessary forrapid scale-up and to achieve the target of 20,000 megawatts.

TheMission has decided to establish an investor-friendly mechanism whichreduces risk and at the same time, provides an attractive, predictableand sufficiently extended tariff for the purchase of solar power. Thefocal point, for the next three years, will be the NTPC Vidyut VyaparNigam (NVVN), which is the power trading arm of the NTPC. NVVN willpurchase solar power at rates fixed by the Central RegulatoryElectricity Commission and for a period specified by the latter.

Whenthe State utilities purchase solar power from NVVN they will get anequivalent amount of thermal power from NVVN. The bundling of moreexpensive solar power with cheaper thermal power will enable a muchcheaper tariff for the consumer, estimated at about Rs.5 or less perunit, and this will also enable concerned States to meet theirrenewable power purchase obligation, which is now mandatory.

Iwish to record my deep appreciation and grateful thanks to my seniorCabinet colleague, Shri Shinde ji, who as Minister of Power, has madethis arrangement possible. I am confident that with the investorfriendly arrangement put in place for grid connected solar power, weshould be able to achieve the ambitious targets, set out by the SolarMission. I am happy to inform you, Sir, that we have already taken thefirst steps in this regard and that 2MW each of solar power plants haverecently been commissioned at Asansol, West Bengal and at Amritsar,Punjab.

There are several off-grid solar applications which arealready commercially viable or near viability, where rapid scale up ispossible. Solar thermal heating applications, such as water heaters,fall in this category. We can go for a rapid scale up in a short time,and considerably reduce the burden on our grid.

By 2022, weaim to install 20 million square meter solar thermal collectors in thecountry and save about 7,500 MW power generation capacity. We areconscious that the achievement of this target requires regulatory andincentive measures as well as an extensive awareness campaign. We areworking together with financial institutions, industry as well as usergroups to put together the correct set of incentives that will enablethe achievement of these targets.

I would like take thisopportunity to request all State Governments to aid this process byappropriate regulatory measures such as making the use of solar waterheaters mandatory for certain types of consumers.

Solarlighting systems for rural and remote areas are also being purchasedcommercially in several parts of the country. Large scale use of solarlights can save substantial quantities of kerosene and also subsidy. Wewant 20 million solar lights to be installed by 2022, which wouldresult in a saving of about 1 billion litres of kerosene every year. Weare working with the banks, especially rural banks, to offer soft loansto consumers for this purpose. My Ministry will help the banks do thisthrough refinancing or interest rate subsidy.

We are awarethat there are areas in the country such as island States and borderareas which are still dependent upon diesel for power generation. Insuch areas we propose to provide up to 90 percent support for settingup solar power plants. In many other solar applications, where theinitial cost is still very high, we are considering proposals forproviding up to 30% grant-in-aid.

Sir, I have alreadymentioned about R&D being one of the key endeavour of the SolarMission to bring down costs and promote deployment of solartechnologies. In pursuance of this goal, we in the Ministry haveembarked on a focused R&D programme which seeks to address theIndia-specific challenges in promoting solar energy. We are adopting atechnology neutral approach.

Instead of backing a particulartechnology, we are trying to address the current drawbacks in usingsolar energy ; for instance, the evolving of a cost-effective andconvenient storage for solar power is high on priority in our R&Defforts. We shall also work, in parallel, on accelerating the processof development of the domestic solar industry. We believe thateconomies of scale, indigenisation and cutting edge research shalltogether lead to the cost reductions that are necessary for the rapidscale up and deployment of solar technologies.

I am proud toinform you sir, that only yesterday, we laid the foundation stone ofthree major research projects, including one in PPP mode in our SolarEnergy Centre at Gurgaon near Delhi.

Research and deploymentneeds skilled and trained manpower. Under the Solar Mission, we aim toaddress this issue as well. We would involve various stakeholders inhuman resource development and other capacity building efforts. As thefirst step, decided to offer fellowships to research students to workat our premier research Centres and train them in solar energytechnologies.

Sir, in launching the National Action Plan onClimate Change, you had given a pride of place to the Solar EnergyMission. You have a vision of India emerging as a world leader in thissector. On our part, we are working in close coordination with allother stakeholders, specially the States, to translate your vision intoa practical, measured and cost-effective plan of action. I would liketo assure you once again that we are fully committed to translate yourvision to make solar energy affordable and to make India a Global Solarpower."