According to reports, the Phase II of the National Solar Mission, which will be executed between 2013 and 2017, will see the installation of 9,000 MW of solar projects, of which 3,000 MW will be under Feed in Tariff, says Mr Anil Lakhani, Chairman and Managing Director, Forum for Advancement of Solar Thermal (FAST).
That’s all very good, but where is the money to pay, wonders Mr Lakhani. The Phase I was easy because NVVN was able to bundle the unallocated power with the costlier solar power and the resultant burden on the electricity distribution companies was just a few paise a unit, but there is no more unallocated power to bundle with now. That model not being there, how is the feed-in-tariff going to be paid? Nobody trusts the PPAs of discoms anyway, and consequently, no project would be bankable. “How will the Central and State governments force utilities to buy expensive power, is an important issue unresolved as yet,” says Mr Lakhina.
Apart from FiT, 3,000 MW will cost around Rs 20,000 crore, and the debt portion of it comes to Rs 14,000 crore. Mr Lakhina estimates that for the 9,000 MW programme, the funding required would be of the order of Rs 50,000 crore. “Mobilising funds of this order for nascent technologies is the biggest policy challenge,” Mr Lakhina, a former Chairman and Managing Director of the Rural Electrification Corporation, says. He suggests a “solar-specific fund” be carved out of the National Clean Energy Fund for this purpose.