India reveals plan for implementation of 10 Solar Zones

The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has this week moved forward with its plan to develop 10 special Solar Zones designed to accelerate the development of large-scale solar PV capacity in the country.

Eyeing 2022’s 100 GW of solar PV target, the Indian ministry has sanctioned the implementation of these zones, which will each cover approximately 10,000 hectares of “government-owned or privately owned wasteland, uncultivable land or fallow land in one or more than one patches”.

Development of the first of these 10 zones will begin this year, with the project expected to span five years. Funding for each zone will be provided by the government to the tune of INR 440 million ($6.5 million).

The purpose of each Solar Zone is to act as a flagship demonstration facility highlighting the efficacy and affordability of solar power, with the aim being to encourage project developers and investors to pour more funds and effort into India’s growing solar industry.

Each Zone will enable states to attract significant investment and create employment opportunities while also contributing towards meeting Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO), according to the MNRE. The ministry has outlined a set of ground rules for the development of each zone, with the onus very much on individual state governments to run both feasibility checks and then to follow through with the successful build and ownership of each zone.

There are, however, a few stipulations. The type of land eligible – basically brownfield of uncultivated farmland – is outlined, and the Zone must receive daily average insolation of more than 4kWh per square meter in order to be granted funding.

India is seeking a number of ways to increase its large-scale solar PV sector, and recently announced that it will aim to reach 40 GW of utility-scale solar by 2020.