Indian government, solar industry interact on MNRE’s solar PV program

02 September of 2009 by

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) had recentlyannounced a unified solar photovoltaic (SPV) program to promote the useof decentralised SPV systems for various applications in rural/ urbanareas and SPV roof top systems for diesel saving in urban areas.

Topromote this program, the MNRE organized a one-day seminar today, inNew Delhi, along with the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), andthe Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd (IREDA), to sharethe modalities for the implementation of the program with the concernedstakeholders such as manufacturers of solar PV modules and equipment,system integrators, service providers, consultants, banks and financialinstitutions, and reputed NGOs. A government-industry interaction onthe MNRE’s program was also intiated during the event.

Welcomingthe delegates, Poornima Shenoy, president, ISA, stressed on the verystrong partnership between the MNRE and the ISA. She added that thisworkshop was a first in a series of such workshops that will be heldacross the country. She requested the delegates to add as much value aspossible to this edition, adding, “We look forward to your feedback, sothat we can improve on our future programs.”

Industry-government interaction step in right direction
B.V.Naidu, chairman, ISA said that it was good to be part of a newrevolution taking place in India. He added: “We have seen the successof the Indian IT industry and the Indian semiconductor design sector.That the MNRE is organizing an industry interaction on solarphotovoltaics is a step in the right direction.” Naidu noted that Indiahas all the features required for becoming a successful solar country.

Incidentally,the current installed capacity of solar PV is said to be over400-500MW, but about 90 percent of that capacity is exported. As acase, in Germany, 4 percent of the overall power generation capacityhas been generated out of solar. A lot of emphasis on solar PV alsobeen happening in the USA and Chima.

Naidu added: “TheGovernment of India has set an ambitious target of reaching 20GW by2020. A lot of things need to be done in the country, and by the Indiansolar PV industry. We are also looking at an equal amount ofparticipation from the academia, so that we can look at ways ofreducing costs and improving the efficiency of solar PV.

The ISAhas already created the roadmap for the FabCity in Hyderabad. It isalso organizing a solar conference in Hyderabad this November.

Solar to assure green technology in India
DrB.M.S. Bist, Advisor, MNRE, said that solar PV is going to play a bigrole in assuring green technology in the country. A date of Nov. 14 hasbeen set for Solar Mission Program, as already mentioned.

TheMNRE’s focus has been at decentralized programs. Today, there are saidto be 75MW of systems across the country. Dr. Bist added thatsignificant targets have been set for the SPV systems. The ministry hasnow tried to make new schemes. These will be presented to the delegatesand their views welcomed. Those views will be compiled and the ministrywill revert to the industry, so both of them can march together.

Massive potential for solar PV in India
Addressingthe delegates, Debashish Majumdar, chairman and managing director,IREDA, said the reason for the gathering today was very clear – whatexists on the MNRE website is potential for renewable energy. However,it does not really highlight the potential for solar PV, which ismassive!

He added: “When solar PV started about 15 years ago inIndia, we had small manufacturers starting in garages, etc., and whohave now grown to become very large companies. It gives us a lot ofhope that things can be done very well here as well. Any newtechnology, to begin with, is expensive. Therefore, it is theprerogative of the rich to adopt it. We all hope that we will have thevolumes and the technologies that can be replicated in India.

“Welook at solar from two aspects — off-grid and on-grid. We would like tosee what kind of demand can we convert in the off-grid applications. Inthe subsequent session, we will see the steps that the ministry hastaken. The policy has been made keeping the best interests of theindustry. We would like to get your feedback and see how best to getthe market going.”

Huge opportunity in off-grid applications
MsGauri Singh, IAS, joint secretary, MNRE said that the purpose of thisinteraction between the government and the industry is to give a loudand clear message to ind that “we would like to work with you aspartners.”

She added: “A large portion of the solar missiontarget will come from grid connected solar power. However, the off-gridopportunity is also huge. We have tried to open up our policy slightly— and take the whole process forward by taking inputs from you — andopen up the policy for suggestions. One part of the scenario is — wealready have large manufacturers who can provide us solar modules. Theother part — is our policy encouraging innovation.

“Now, thetime is ripe where we can do only the broad technical specifications,etc., but leave the innovation and configuration of the off-gridsolutions to the industry, and make it an enabling flavor.” She alsocalled for a need to put out a third party monitoring system.

She further added that the MNRE was also working to see whether it could get the IREDA into a refinance operation with banks.

Thereare schemes in place, where if anyone wants to work with a bank, a lotof incentives are available to the banks. Now, the ministry would liketo see incentives being given to the manufacturers.

This is anhonest attempt on part of the MNRE to work closely with the industry.Hopefully, everything will go well, following this interaction as itwill sow the right seeds toward reaping a full harvest — in shape ofachieving the very ambitious target of the national solar mission plan!

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