India to add 2 GW of solar projects


The Indian government has announced plans to build four mega solar farms with a total capacity of more than 2 GW by next year.

The photovoltaic projects, which are set to begin construction in April, would nearly double India's current PV capacity. The plants will be part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission launched in 2010, the first phase of which added 1,684 MW of grid-connected solar power. The mission aims to add 20 GW grid-connected solar power to the?country's energy mix by 2022.

One project will be constructed in the state of Rajasthan, a second in Gujarat and the two others in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, according to Indian business newspaper Mint, which cited Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary, new and renewable energy ministry.

The solar farms would generate more than 500 MW each, according to Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram. Chidambaram announced the projects on Monday in New Delhi in a speech discussing the country's interim budget, which will continue to finance the government until parliamentary elections in May.

The rising cost of electricity has become an electoral issue in the country, which has been plagued by blackouts due in part to fuel shortages at fossil fuel plants, according to Bloomberg. The newly announced solar farms are part of India's overall solar energy plan to increase solar capacity, which is expected to result in a fivefold increase by 2017. The Indian government announced plans in January to build a 4 GW solar project in Rajasthan.

The country's residential rooftop market is also to grow dramatically in the coming years, according to a recent report by market research and consulting group Bridge to India, which predicts the sector will reach 620 MW by 2018.

India is aiming to have a 15 percent share of renewable energy in its overall energy mix by 2020. The country has a total installed capacity of more than 227 GW, of which 28 GW, or about 12%, is renewable energy, according to Mint.

Chidambaram said the country added 29 GW of power-generation capacity between April and December last year. India's peak power deficit dropped to 4 percent in January, from 11.4 percent a year earlier, Bloomberg reported, citing data from India's Central Electricity Authority.

News of the 2 GW projects follows the announcement last week by the United States government that it was taking India to the World Trade Organization in a dispute over the local content requirements that are part of India's solar mission. The U.S. has complained that the requirements provide an unfair advantage to Indian solar equipment manufacturers.

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