Thursday, July 29, 2010

Solarcon India 2010: Timely implementation of phase 1 critical to success of JN-NSM!

The inaugural function at the ongoing Solarcon India 2010 has sent out a significant message to the world -- India means business in solar! All eyes are now on phase 1 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM). Timely and successful implementation of phase 1 really holds the key toward future success of this ambitious Mission.Strong emphasis is now being placed on research and development, and rightly so. The Indian government is also working toward tackling issues involved with project financing.

The Union Ministry of Urban Development has now come up with a National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, which should provide many more opportunities for project developers. Just days before the conference, guidelines for new solar projects under the JN-NSM were announced. NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam signed MoUs with 16 project developers for solar power projects. On the state level, the initiatives undertaken by the Andhra Pradesh government are there for all to see and emulate.

Let's take a look at what the various dignitaries from Central and State governments, EPIA and SEMI, had to say at Solarcon 2010. Please bear with me, friends, as this is quite a long post!

India needs to develop research facilities
Delivering his address at the inauguration function of Solarcon 2010, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Hon’ble Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy highlighted that JN-NSM has been the vision of Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minster. Phase 1 is now underway -- a target of 1,000 MW, with 500MW for solar PV and 500MW for solar thermal.

Addressing the Indian solar PV industry, Dr. Abdullah stressed: "India should develop its technology right here! Don't import third rate technology!" He quipped "Sastaa roye bar bar, mehenga roye ek bar!" That is, it is better to buy expensive and quality technology rather than banking on cheap technology.

"Your technology has to work for 25 years! You must have your own research centers. Research is one of the goals of the NSM. You have to do your own research. You are going to the market, not only for India, but also for a unified world," he added.

The Minister remarked that by simply adding solar water heaters in several hotels had reduced their electricity bills by half. He added: "We want to encourage many players. We want true players!" Addressing the solar thermal and PV debate, he said: "When we started, we put 60:40 for thermal and PV. We changed that to 50:50." There may be a need to go down further. "Buy the best technology, don't buy cheap!"

He added that many states had missed the boat in phase 1 of the JN-NSM. Some examples include Bihar and Kerala. However, there is every likelihood that they will get included in phase 2 of the JN-NSM. "Look at the amount of fossil fuels we are importing at the cost of dollars and the country's health. Just look at the savings we can do for the nation if we can develop solar technology."

Bankers meet in Mumbai to address finance problems
The Minister admitted that finance has been a problem for some time. He advised the gathering about a bankers meeting that has been called for in Mumbai. "We have to take the risk to go forward," he said. He advised that each MP's house in Delhi has solar power heaters. Every government building will henceforth be green.

Dr. Abdullah added that his Ministry has requested the Urban Ministry for land, as solar as a segment within the MNRE needs to have its own identity. His Ministry is currently searching for a chairman who understands solar energy, who can head this initiative. This is indeed timely and very welcome, as and when it happens.

Solar energy and urbanization
S. Jaipal Reddy, Hon’ble Union Minister for Urban Development, said there has been a general consensus that human contribution by way of pollution to the process of climate change has been a major issue that needs to be addressed. Calling the JN-NSM a great initiative, he also voiced concern at the spread of pollution along with urbanization.

Only 30 percent of the Indian population is urban, which is relatively low than global standard of 50 percent. Hence, there is a huge requirement for energy consumption, which can be met by exploring and exhausting all avenues of utilization of non-conventional sources of energy.

He said: "There is a National Mission on Sustainable Habitat. We will see how we can reduce the dependance on conventional energy. We are focused on the utilization of solar energy, especially in urban and commercial projects. We want to encourage the energy audit of public buildings as well."

For those interested, this particular Mission will promote energy efficiency as an integral component of urban planning and urban renewal through three initiatives -- Energy Conservation Building Code; recycling of material and urban waste management; and better urban planning and modal shift to public transport.

One of the recommendations of this Mission is to use rooftop solar programs, as well as solar water heaters. Incentives will be provided for efficient lighting systems. There you go -- multiple opportunites are now made available, under the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat!

And, friends, why are you worrying about things like 'Made-in-India modules' condition for JN-NSM projects? I just don't get it! Don't you ever want your own, local industry to ever grow and prosper? Why do you still want to import more and more? What's the fun in taking short cuts?

Jaipal Reddy also highlighted a community complex in Kolkata, which runs on solar. Houses have been designed based on solar passive architecture.

He added that the CPWD has also adopted green building parameters in its 2007 manual. Every construction of CPWD will employ TERI’s Griha’ rating systems."Every CPWD building, henceforth, has to be green," the Minister added. Presently, all government buildings use solar water heaters. Nirman Bhawan in Delhi is based on such a concept. Even the PM’s residence uses10 percent of power from solar energy. He concluded, "In my ministry, I will do everything to develop solar power applications."

Massive initiatives undertaken by AP government
In his address, K. Rosaiah, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, said that with the growing concern toward global warming and for securing a reliable energy supply, the developed and developing countries have committed themselves to increase the percentage share of renewable energy in the total energy supply in the future.

India has a number of policies that contribute to reducing or avoiding greenhouse gases. Fortunately, being a tropical country, India has tremendous potential for promotion of RE based power generation.

He added that the JN-NSM is a major initiative to promote ecologically sustainable growth, while addressing India's energy security challenge. It is the first mission announced by the government of India out of eight missions envisaged under National Action Plan for Climate Change.

Rosaiah said, "The Solar Mission will create conditions through rapid scale up of capacity and technological innovation to drive down costs toward grid parity by 2022, and parity with coal-based thermal power by 2030." He highlighted the initiatives undertaken by the Andhra Pradesh goverment in developing specific areas, which are having high solar insolation for setting up solar power projects.

Rosaiah added: "The AP Industrial Infrastructure Corp. (APIIC) is allotting land in potential areas for development of solar power projects. Some of the potential areas identified are – Kadiri in Ananthpur (2,200 acres); Gurajala in Guntur District (4,575 acres); Nennal in Adilabad district (1,008 acres); and Pulivendula and Kopparty in Kadapa district (625 acres)."

The AP government is encouraging solar power projects by approving the recommended tariff of CERC and recommended for 0.25 percent solar energy power purchase obligation. The AP Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) has also issued tariff order to this extent.

The AP government is also encouraging setting up of manufacturing facilities at Fabcity in Hyderabad. As of now, 21 units are said to be coming up at an investment of Rs, 20,000 crores ($4.4 billion), with provision to employ 25,000 people.

The AP government has not stopped here. It has recently selected 22 companies under rooftop and other small solar power projects schemes for total capacity of 20 MW. The state government has also recommended eight projects, which are under various stages of development -- with total capacity of 28 MW -- for migration to JN-NSM. A number of investors are also coming forward for setting up solar power projects in AP under Phase I program of the government of India, whose guidelines were announced on July 25 (see PC's Solar PV blog).

Need to address financing
N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, chairman, Solar Energy Society of India (AP), and chairman, Solar Energy Manufactures Association of India (AP), said: "The timing and location of Solarcon India 2010 are significant. Hyderabad is India's solar capital. The rooftop program is in the state of finalization. Also, the new NSM guidelines have been recently released. For us, it is a big step forward. Outside of Europe and Japan, only India has announced tariff based programs."

He added that the cost of finance has now become a major cost for setting up power plants. If India can address the issue of cost of finance for setting up solar power plants, it would help in achieving the NSM target. India has started initiatives for providing solar power in Gram Panchayats, which has been sanctioned in some states.

Global support for NSM
Dr. Winfried Hoffmann, president, European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) mentioned that Germany would be installing 7-8GW of solar PV in 2010, and a total of 18GW cumulative. If the same was done in India, it could produce 270GW, which will produce 1500kWh. I hope I've got the numbers right, here.

He added: "I would like to congratulate India for the important move to support the solar PV market with 1 GW projects in the coming two years. This is really a highlight seen from the global perspective, so that no longer Europe alone is doing its way to bring photovoltaics to big installations." In sunny India, much more can be done in the coming years for the prospect of clean energy and electricity.

Stanley Meyers, CEO, SEMI, said: "We saw the importance of PV years ago. It can also bring electricity to the underserved." He added: "Renewable energy can become the driver of growth in India. The NSM makes the goals very clear. The NSM requires the support, guidance and contribution from those who have gone down the similar path. An entire solar PV supply chain needs to be created. It will require the support of the global industry and need a global roadmap." The SEMI PV Group was formed in 2008.

Earlier, welcoming the delegates, Sathya Prasad, president, SEMI India, said: Andhra Pradesh is at the forefront of realizing solar in India. It is the hub of module manufacturing in India. Such a feat has been made possible with the help of the Andhra Pradesh government." The theme of Solarcon India 2010 is: "“Achieving 1000 MWp of solar generation capacity by 2012 & 20,000 MW by 2022." The event ends on July 30.

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