November 11, 2011

India doubles solar-power installation target as industry booms

November 10, 2011

Bloomberg: Natalie Obiko Pearson

India expects to have 10 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2017, more than double what it initially targeted, as the industry ramps up quicker than predicted.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy plans to award permits for as much as 10,000 megawatts of grid-connected solar plants by 2017, up from its initial target of 4,000 megawatts, Bharat Bhargava, a director at the ministry, said at conference in the southern city of Hyderabad. It’s also doubling its target for off-grid solar plants to 2,000 megawatts, he said.

“Based on present trends, 10,000 megawatts is achievable,” Bhargava said. India’s total solar installations reached 125 megawatts as of the end of October, he said. That’s more than double the 50 megawatts that the country had in June.

Asia’s third-largest energy consumer provides a bright spot for solar panel makers facing plunging margins and slowing growth. Developers of projects that generate electricity from the sun in Europe, the world’s largest solar market, are unable to get bank financing to start new plants, leading demand for panels to fall 10 percent short of expectations this year, Ole Enger, chief executive officer of Norway’s Renewable Energy Corp., said in an interview last week.

Interest from solar power developers exceeded the amount of available capacity on offer by more than seven times for India’s next auction of permits, Bhargava said. The ministry has received 218 applications seeking to build 2,500 megawatts of solar plants.

The ministry is only awarding 350 megawatts in the second auction due to be completed this month. Winners of that round will sign power purchase agreements by Dec. 31 and complete the plants by January 2013, he said.

(The views expressed above are the personal views of the author)


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