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‘Achieving 20K MW solar power capacity by 2022 won’t be easy’

According to reports, poor financial health of power distribution companies and funding issues pose challenges to India’s plan of having 20,000 MW solar energy capacity by 2022, according to a senior government official.

The ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, has set a target 20,000 MW installed solar power capacity by 2022.

“We believe the 20,000 MW target is achievable. But it will not be easy as there are several challenges like inadequate transmission network, financial ability of discoms, among others,” Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) Joint Secretary Tarun Kapoor told PTI over the phone here.

The poor financial position of state electricity boards is a matter of concern for project developers even though the government has introduced debt restructuring package for distressed power distribution companies (discoms).

According to Kapoor, the lack of transmission network to evacuate solar power is a major hurdle.

“Setting up a transmission network is not an easy task. There are several challenges associated with it. There are concerns over funding in setting up solar plants, as banks are a little reluctant to fund such projects,” he said.

Nevertheless, the government is making efforts to develop the solar energy segment.

Plans are on the anvil for setting up ultra mega solar projects (UMPPs), having capacity of about 4,000 MW, in different parts of the country.

The MNRE has proposed solar UMPPs in Rajasthan and Gujarat, besides plans for large solar parks in Ladakh and Kargil.

Ground work has already commenced for the country’s first solar UMPP in Rajasthan. It would be developed by a joint venture — Bhel (26 per cent), Solar Energy Corp (23 per cent), Power Grid Corp, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam and Hindustan Salts (16 per cent each) and Rajasthan Electronics and Instruments (REIL) (3 per cent).

“The joint venture (agreement) will be signed in December. The joint venture firm will then float the tenders,” Kapoor said.

In this project, the first phase of 1,000 MW is expected to be completed in three years.

Going by estimates, the operational solar power capacity, comprising solar photo voltaic and solar thermal, is currently at little over 2,000 MW.

India has an overall installed power generation capacity of more than 2,27,000 MW, with renewable sources accounting for over 28,000 MW.

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