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India to be a huge market for solar power soon

According to reports, experts on Monday stated that the country was set to add more than 10 Giga Watts (GW) of solar photo voltaic power every year in the next 5-6 years.

“The past three years have seen more than 1 GW added to the grid in the country,” said Pashupathy Gopalan, MD, SunEdison South Asia.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of Solarcon 2012, an exhibition and conference showcasing the Solar PV sector in the state.

Gopalan said, “The cost of a solar panel has decreased from more than $2 to less than 70 cents. There is room for reduction in prices.”

He added that solar power had achieved grid parity for commercial customers and in some cases was even cheaper.

“India can realistically look at adding close to 10 GW a year after 5-6 years. It will be one of the world’s biggest markets,” he added.

However, other speakers were of the opinion that various government subsidies on solar photo voltaic production as well as trade barriers stood in the way of companies wishing to play a greater role in the Solar PV sector in the country.

“While innovation will continue and the markets will grow, companies are finding it tougher to survive due to such uncertainties,” said Vice-president of SEMI Bettina Weiss.

Also speaking at the inaugural, CM Jagadish Shettar said that the state aims to add 200 Mega Watt of solar energy by the year 2016.

“The state has a capacity ranging between 4.5-7 Kilo Watt Hour (KWH) per Square Metre. We are looking at establishing the country’s first solar city in Karnataka. We shall also adopt the Gujarat model of using irrigation canals to install solar panels,” he added.

Expressing an interest in funding the state’s solar projects, Anita M George, International Finance Corporation (IFC) Director for Infrastructure in Asia said, “Around $200 million of the total $500 million we have financed in the solar PV sector is from India. We are certainly interested in financing the state’s 200 MW target. In today’s market when private financiers are not interested in funding solar PV projects, we see a chance for the IFC,” she said.

IFC is part of the World Bank group and looks at development oriented financing.

George agreed with Weiss that local content requirements and other trade impositions by various governments was not the way forward for the Solar PV industry.

“We want to work with companies with long term interest since returns in the sector are based over a long term. We also look at the credit worthiness of the offtaker and urge the state government to address the long standing financial issues of ESCOMS,” she added.

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