Centre devises scheme to support setting up of solar plants

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Kochi, Jan 21: Aiming to generate 50 MW from solar energy in the next two years, the Centre has formulated a scheme to support setting up of solar plants in the country, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Union Secretary V Subramanian said today.

Inaugurating a three-day International Conference on Solar Cells (IC-SOLACE 2008) here, Mr Subramanian said under the scheme the private players, who set up solar plants of one MW and above, would be provided generation-based incentive of upto Rs 12 per kWh for the electricity generated from solar photovoltaic and fed to the grid.

Stating that the scheme, announced on January 2 this year, had elicited a good response, Mr Subramanian hoped that it would help to bridge the wide gap between the production cost of solar and conventional energy.

The country presently had a solar power generation capacity of only 200 KW and the high cost of silicon, the main material in the solar cells, was the major factor in the slow growth of solar energy in India, which had abundant sunshine, he said.

Stressing the need for exploring alternative materials to silicon, Mr Subramanian said there was a need to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of solar power generation.

He said once the market share of the technology for the use of renewable energy grow significantly and the technology become competitive, obligatory purchase of renewable electricity by the grids can be made mandatory through law.

The time frame for this, however, depended on several factors, including the right choice of technology, success of the plants installed in different parts of the country, cost competitiveness of the technology and the availability of required manpower.

Stating that worldwide, there was a renewed focus on non-conventional sources of energy, Mr Subramanian said the global investment in the sector had gone up to an estimated 65 billion dollars in 2007 from 30 billion dollars in 2004.

The three-day conference, organised by the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), was attended by several foreign delegates, including from Japan, France, Mexico, Syria, the US, Portugal, Iran and Poland.


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