Need to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity in solar: Deepak Gupta

Deepak Gupta, secretary, MNRE.

Deepak Gupta, secretary, MNRE.

Delivering the valedictory address at Solarcon Iindia 2010, Deepak Gupta, secretary, MNRE, government of India, detailed the main agenda of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM) for India as follows:

* Reduction of fossil fuels consumption.
* Improve access to electricity.
* Reduce the carbon footprint.

He said that solar provides the versatility to meet India’s objectives. “When we talk of NSM, people only tend to see the target. There are several other important objectives. One of those being the target of 20 million rural household lights.”

He added that the target of NSM should be seen in context of the fundamental objectves of the NSM. “We need to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity as well. Solar power must lead to cost reduction and technology improvement.

“We have seen the rush for 1MW, we are likely to see a similar rush for 5MW. We iwill go in for reverse auction. We hope that serious players with long term strategy will participate. On the grid side, we kept a 100MW as the target, of which 90MW has been proposed.”

Off-grid opportunities significant
Gupta encouraged the Indian industry to look at the off grid opportunities more seriously. Off-grid opportunities are significant and must be strongly looked into, in addition to the grid-connected power projects. For instance, even if solar/PV is deployed for say, 50,000 telecom towers across the country, there can be huge savings — in terms of energy savings and usage of diesel.

Actually, there is also a need to identify the various areas where diesel can be replaced. The telecom tower is just one example. This is a huge market opportunity waiting to happen. He urged the industry to develop expertise for all this.

Gupta added: “When we talk about off grid, we should also look at rural lighting. The 20mn target, broadly means covering 4,000 households every day from 15th of June over the next 12 years. Solar lighting is a revolution waiting to happen. We also need to find suitable business models of solar power for village community, and try and provide livelihood opportunities.”

Next, the NSM is encouraging strong R&D programs. Much more needs to be done on this front. Quality control and certification will also be important. An international lab is said to be opening its facility in Bangalore in August.

Gupta pointed out that there is also a need for the Indian solar PV industry to develop a service infrastructure. All off the grid activities will require services. It is still a neglected area.

He added that critical elements required for success of the NSM would include human resources development — building talent pool, R&D — to reduce cost, besides policy support and finance. He urged the industry to stress on the importance of standards, accreditation and quality control mechanisms to help ensure the overall quality and reliability of the PV systems.

The MNRE also welcomes CSR programs of companies to join hands in setting up projects for off-grid applications in rural areas. Now that policy details have been published, the industry must act to implement the NSM and strive to achieve the targets.

Gupta concluded: “Correctives to the policy will be done as we go along. We will also monitor closely the implementation and timelines. The NSM cannot tolerate players who will delay.”

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