“No Way” – This was the reaction of one of the foreign delegates attending the Intersolar India 2014 event, when he was told about the plans of MNRE to scale up the JNNSM targets to 100 GW in less than 10 years. This reaction was echoed by many, who felt that it was impossible to achieve such targets, especially considering the fact that it took the country about 5 years to reach the first 3 GW mark. However, others were more optimistic, and said that it could be possible. Even if only half the target is achieved, that would still be a great achievement. Mr. Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, and its impact on growing the domestic solar PV manufacturing, was also a widely discussed topic.
The mood of the participants at the Intersolar India 2014 was very upbeat, given the announcement of the new government to scale up the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission(JNNSM) from 22 GW by 2022 to 100 GW by 2022. The optimism was compounded by the fact that 1.5 GW of solar projects in the last 2 weeks(link here, here and here), in addition to the 750 MW allotment under the JNNSM Phase 2, Batch1. This was in huge contrast to last year, when the sector was gloomy as a result of the policy paralysis.
The event was inaugurated by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Rajendra Pachauri. In his address, Dr. Pachauri said that around 35% of all Green House Gas(GHG) emissions are a result of energy production, and renewable energy can play a huge role in bringing down the GHG emissions in a major way. In India, the installed capacity of Diesel Gensets is about 90 GW. The amount of diesel consumed by agricultural pump sets is also very high. It is also a well-known fact that close to 300 million people in India does not have access to electricity. It is in these areas that decentralized solar, rooftop solar and solar water heats can make a big impact. He concluded with an optimistic note, citing the intentions of the new government to massively increase the Solar Mission targets.
The first day also saw the announcement of the winners of the Intersolar Awards. Some of the prestigious projects executed by Larsen & Toubro, Sterling & Wilson, Vikram Solar, and Waare Energies made it to the finals, and the winners were Bosch Solar, Tata Power Solar and Trojan Batteries.
The day concluded with a PV Executive panel moderated by Dr. Bharat Bhargava, Director General of ONGC Energy Centre and had CEOs form Tata Power Solar, Vikram Solar, Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Limited, Dupont and First Green Consulting Pvt Ltd.
Mr. Ajay Goel of Tata Power Solar strongly pitched for a national level policy/regulatory framework on rooftops, and said that piecemeal policies will not be effective. He added that reverse bidding was leading to extreme price pressure, and the current market dynamics do not reward innovation and R&D by manufacturers. He was of the view that Indian manufacturers would need a minimum manufacturing capacity of around 500 MW in order to the globally competitive. Mr. Goel posed a question whether a “Moonshot” like initiative for Solar in India will see the whole country rally around Solar.
Mr. Rajaram Pai of Dupont India was of the view that “affordable solar power” should be the primary goal of the government, and government should ensure that the best technology at the lowest cost from anywhere in the world is available in India. He also highlighted the fact that the transmission and distribution(T&D) losses are extremely high(to the tune of 30%) in India, and one of the easiest ways to prevent these losses is to focus heavily on in-situ/distributed solar power generation. He said that a 5 paise cess on petrol can help in creating a corpus that can be used to support distributed generation and rooftop solar.
All the panelists agreed that adding another 100 GW in 10 years is doable, provided issues like evacuation infrastructure, clarity on Open Access charges, policy uncertainties and financing challenges are taken care of. There was also consensus that Solar PV will be driving the growth, and Solar Thermal technologies for power generation would only form a small part.
The impressions of the Day 2 of the event can be read here.