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Companies see a realistic chance of bringing down cost of solar power

As one of the eight National Missions outlined in National Action Plan on Climate Change, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) specifically focuses on solar energy and its role in minimizing future emissions.

 The Government has launched JNNSM in January, 2010 with a target of 20,000 MW grid solar power (based on solar thermal power generating systems and solar photovoltaic (SPV) technologies), 2000 MW of off-grid capacity including 20 million solar lighting systems and 20 million sq.m. solar thermal collector area by 2022. The Mission will be implemented in three phases. The first phase will be of three years (upto March, 2013), the second till March 2017 and the third phase will continue till March, 2022.

 Government has also approved the implementation of the first phase of the Mission (upto March, 2013) and the target to set up 1,100 MW grid connected solar plants including 100 MW of roof-top and small solar plants and 200 MW capacity equivalent off-grid solar applications and 7 million sq.m. solar thermal collector area in the first phase of the Mission, till 2012-13.

The third phase is when major scale up is expected and it is projected that with prices going down the costs will be close to grid parity.

According to reports, the good news, though, is that prices have been falling, from 50 per unit 15-20 years back. And they’re set to fall further in the next three to five years, thanks to a combination of business and technology factors.

 Says Rajiv Arya, CEO, Moser Baer Solar: “We see a clear path to under 10 per unit via technology improvements and a massive scale-up in volume.”

V Saibaba, CEO, Lanco Solar, is even more specific and optimistic . “In a couple of years, we see solar power costs coming down to 7-8 per unit,” he says.

 PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PwC’s ) energy expert Kameswara Rao sees solar power at 9-10 per unit in below five years.

Saibaba adds that between 2003 and 2010, solar power generation globally has grown from 3,000 MW per annum to 17,000 MW per annum . “Costs of solar have come down, the main reason being the high growth in installation of solar power globally,” points out Saibaba. Lanco Solar has signed power purchase agreements for 141 MW of solar power with NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam under the National Solar Mission and with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam under the state policy.

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