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India expands solar energy initiatives

Posted: 03 Jul 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:economic development  energy efficiency  "National Mission on Solar Energy"  solar energy 

In a country where millions of people worship the sun, the government has launched a "National Mission on Solar Energy" that seeks to tie India's economic development to energy efficiency.

A separate initiative on energy efficiency has also been launched. Specific projects and funding will be announced soon. The announcement of the National Action Plan in New Delhi on Monday (June 30) comes as India is participating in United Nations talks on combating climate change.

"We must pioneer a graduated shift from economic activity based on fossil fuels to one based on nonfossil fuels and from reliance on nonrenewable and depleting sources of energy to renewable sources of energy," said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "The sun occupies a centre stage, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy."

Singh said India seeks "to develop solar energy as a source of abundant energy to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people."

Officials said the solar energy initiative will require government financial and institutional support along with private initiatives. India has formed a federal ministry focused on new and renewable energy. The ministry is seeking to generate at least 10 per cent of India's power from solar energy over the next several years.

Private investors have put up nearly Rs.80,042.14 crore ($20 billion) build plants in India to make photovoltaic cells and panels. Some are seeking federal and local subsidies and other concessions under a national program to promote solar manufacturing. One of the projects, announced—Signet Solar—is backed by EDA industry veteran Prabhu Goel.

Government officials concede that the cost of generating power through large solar energy installations faces high initial start-up costs. The federal ministry for new and renewable energy has already funded 33 grid-interactive solar photovoltaic power plants with a total capacity of 2.125mW.

- K.C. Krishnadas
EE Times

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