Patrick Ledermann
VP, Alstom Thermal Power & Renewable Power in India

Norway has supported a project to electrify 28 villages with solar mini-grid plants in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir, Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy (Independent Charge), recently said in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

Under off-grid and decentralised solar applications scheme of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, the ministry provides 30 per cent capital subsidy which ranges from Rs. 27 per Wp to Rs. 135 per Wp for installation of solar photovoltaic systems and power plants.
Further, the minister stated that in special category states like the northeast states, Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the ministry provided 90 per cent capital subsidy ranging from Rs. 81 Wp to Rs. 405 per Wp for government organisations (not for commercial organisations and corporations). The ministry is supporting state governments in these states to exploit solar potential.

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So far, tapping of solar energy in the country is very small (2,647 MW as on May 31, 2014) compared to the available potential of 30-50 MW per sq. km of shadow-free open area. However, the power minister said that this could not treated as an underachievement because the exploitation of solar energy in a big way had started only four years ago with the launch of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. On the other hand, solar energy continued to be expensive and therefore required heavy investment. Also, solar energy was intermittent in nature thereby making it difficult to integrate in the grid.

The minister said that lack of public awareness, high cost of generation and limitations of existing power evacuation and transmission networks had been identified as the main hindering factors in tapping optimal solar energy potential across the country.

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