According to reports, in sun-drenched India, the fledgling solar energy market is poised for a vertical take-off aided by falling solar panel prices, mirroring the now famous Indian telecom revolution, a senior Welspun Group official said in an interview.
The Welspun Group is lining up ambitious plans to be among the top three producers of solar power in the country in the next two-three years by producing at least 500 MW of solar power by 2014. “Earlier, villages did not have landline connectivity but mobile telephony fixed that problem,” Vineet Mittal, managing director of Welspun Energy, draws up the telecom analogy. “Similarly, we don’t have grid connectivity in different parts of the country, but solar-based power and distribution systems can be an effective solution,” Mittal said.
“Solar will become a game-changer,” Mittal declared. What Welspun and other players in the renewable energy space are betting on is that coal-based power tariffs are bound to increase while solar-based power tariffs will keep declining. Industry observers think the inflection point could be when cost of solar-based power becomes equal or close enough to that of coal-based power. Already the price per unit has come down from 18 to 8.50 and it will fall further as technology improves, solar energy evangelists like Mittal believe. “We expect this (grid parity) to happen by 2015,” predicts Welspun’s Mittal. “As the solar tariff approaches grid parity, the sector will start growing exponentially.”
Welspun has already commissioned a 30-MW solar energy project and is working on various projects totaling another 80 MW which are in various stages of completion. The BK Goenka-led group is also bidding for solar power projects outside India, especially some Asian countries.