Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ramped up his target for solar energy as he bets on renewables to help meet rising power demand and overcome the frequent outages that plague Asia’s third largest economy, a senior official said.
India gets twice as much sunshine as many European countries that use solar power. But the clean energy source contributes less than 1 per cent to India’s energy mix, while its dependence on erratic coal supplies causes chronic power cuts that idle industry and hurt growth.
Modi now wants companies from China, Japan, Germany and the US to lead investments of $100 billion over seven years to boost India’s solar energy capacity by 33 times to 100,000 megawatts (MW), said Upendra Tripathy, the top official in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
That would raise solar’s share of India’s total energy mix to more than 10 per cent. In Germany, a leader in renewable energy, solar accounted for about 6 per cent of total power generated in 2014.
India had earlier set an investment target of $100 billion for the next five years for all types of renewable energy, with wind taking up two-thirds of the total.
In an interview, Tripathy said Modi’s new solar target was ambitious, “but if you do not have a higher goal, you will not achieve anything”.
Canadian Solar and China’s JA solar said they are looking at making cells or modules – used in solar panels – in India. JinkoSolar Holdings said recent announcements have also raised their interest.