11 Jan : As part of efforts to combat climate change, PM Manmohan Singh has advocated creation of Solar Valleys on the lines of Silicon Valleys and asked industrial houses to view the Solar Mission as a huge business opportunity.
Launching the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission “Solar India” in New Delhi on Monday, he said its success has the potential of transforming India’s energy prospects, while contributing to national as well as global efforts to combat climate change.
The role of industry in this Mission that set an ambitious target to generate 20,000 MW of solar generating capacity by the end of 13th Five Year Plan, would be critical.
“Eventually, if the ambitious roll out of the Mission is to become a reality, we will have to create many Solar Valleys on the lines of the Silicon Valleys that are spurring our IT industry across the four corners of the country,” Singh told the gathering which included Union Ministers Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah and Jairam Ramesh.
Noting that these valleys would become hubs for solar science, engineering and research, fabrication and manufacturing, the Prime Minister urged the Indian industry to see the Solar Mission as the “huge business opportunity that it is”.
Referring to Jawarharlal Nehru’s vision to create world-class scientific and technological capabilities in the atomic energy and space sectors, he said it was these strengths that created the Information Technology revolution in the country and made it a global player.
“I am convinced that solar energy can be the next scientific and industrial frontier in India after Atomic Energy, Space and IT”, he said.
The Prime Minister said though the Mission’s target of 20,000 MW was ambitious, it was “doable and we should work single-mindedly to achieve it as a priority national endeavour”.
He said various ministries and authorities would have to work in tandem in order to make the Mission a success.
The Mission should evolve as a single national platform for coordination among scientific, industrial and regulatory establishments in a synergetic manner.
Increased use of solar energy was a central component of government’s strategy to bring about a strategic shift from the current reliance on fossil fuels to a pattern of sustainable growth based on renewable and clean sources of energy, Singh said.
He hoped that the Mission would also establish India as a global leader in solar energy, not just in terms of solar power generation but also in solar manufacturing and technology.
Noting that solar energy in its decentralised and distributed applications is already beginning to light the lives of tens of millions of India’s energy-poor people, he said the rapid spread of solar lighting systems, solar water pumps and other solar power-based rural applications could change the face of rural energy sector.
“We intend to significantly expand such applications through the Mission”, he said, adding the regulatory and incentive framework would encourage technological innovation and generate economies of scale and lead to steady lowering of costs.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said though the initial cost of solar energy was very high, the government would aim to bring it down “as quickly as possible” in order to provide power to villages and rural homes.
Over the next three years, the NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) would purchase solar power at rates fixed by the Central Regulatory Electricity Commission, he said, adding when the State utilities purchase solar power from NVVN they would get an equivalent amount of thermal power from NVVN.
“The bundling of more expensive solar power with cheaper thermal power will enable a much cheaper tariff for the consumer, estimated at about Rs five or less per unit,” he said.
Abdullah said that the government wanted to install 20 million solar lights by 2022, which would save about one billion litres of kerosene a year and was working with banks, especially rural banks, to offer soft loans to consumers.
He said the government also proposed to provide upto 90 percent support for setting up solar power plants in island States and border areas.
In other solar applications, the government was considering proposals for providing upto 30 percent grant-in-aid, he added.