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India’s solar power capacity to surge atleast six fold in 2011-12

According to reports, if all goes according to plan, India’s solar power capacity will grow six-fold to touch 300 MW by the end of this year, even as several enthusiastic states are commissioning solar power plants. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra are among states where solar projects are set to be commissioned in the latter half of 2011.

NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), the nodal agency to purchase solar power from independent producers, had last October signed MoUs with 16 developers to set up 84 MW capacity solar projects under the migration scheme to Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).

This January, it signed MoUs with another 30 developers to set up 620 MW capacity solar projects under the first batch of the phase 1 of JNNSM. Besides this, states such as Gujarat and Karnataka are pursuing solar projects on their own.

“There could be approximately 200-300 MW of solar capacity installed, but there are no guarantees. It all depends on whether companies can get financing and execute,” said Ameet Shah, co-chairman, Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd.

Wind power has added 2,000 MW to the National Grid, but solar power has added a measly 40MW till now. The Centre expects 250MW to be added in the current year.

“India’s solar market is still in a nascent stage with both national and state policies only recently beginning to take shape,” said Raj Prabhu, managing partner, Mercom Capital Group, a clean energy consulting firm.

“The second and third quarters of 2011 will be significant as financial and project deadlines become due,” he said.

These assessments are inline with that Panchabuta has been observing as developments on the ground happen. There could be a positive surprise of an additional 100MW, but that is possible only if projects are able to close financing.

What will be interesting to see is how the Gujarat state government and the National Solar Mission handle projects that do not take off and the mechanism that is followed in rebidding or reallocating the projects.

Some of the more serious project proponents that Panchabuta spoke to have expressed keen interest in taking over defunct PPA’s where the developers are not able to honour their commitments. Serious developers  have said that they look to the government to rebid such projects at the earliest so that those with a demonstrable track record can take advantage of the opportunity.

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