India identifies 54 solar cities; releases JNNSM figures

The Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah has given, "in-principle", approval to the development of 54 solar cities.
Overall, 8 master plans are said to have been approved for eight cities – Agra and Moradabad from Uttar Pradesh; Thane and Kalyan-Dombivli from Maharashtra; Indore from Madhya Pradesh; Kohima from Nagaland; and Aizawl from Mizoramand Chandigarh – and the development of projects is reportedly underway. A further 20 draft master plans have been developed.
According to a statement released, a total of Rs. 19.23 crore (around €2.6 million, US$3.5 million) has been approved for the preparation of master plans, solar city cells and promotional activities for 41 cities. A further Rs. 11.98 crore has been allocated for the execution of renewable energy projects in five cities.
The minister added that eligible cities must have a population between 50,000 and five million, although "relaxation" will be given to special category states, including north east states.
In related news, the minister has said that a total of 1.04 GW worth of grid connected photovoltaic projects and 160.8 MW of off-grid systems have been commissioned under the first phase of the JNNSM, between January 2010 and March 2013.
Overall, the total installed capacity of renewable energy in India is said to be 26.267 GW. Under the country’s 12th plan period (2012 to 2017), a further 30 GW is expected to be added. "While cost of power generation from wind, biomass and small hydro are comparable with cost of power from conventional sources, solar power may take some more time to achieve grid parity," said the ministry in a statement released.