PM Modi Inaugurates First ISA General Assembly; Opens Membership For UN Countries
In a major boost to solar energy projects on a worldwide level, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first general assembly of International Solar Alliance and announced the “universalisation” of membership for the first treaty-based international government organisation. India recently co-hosted the ISA Summit with France. It was at this summit, that witnessed some of the prominent world leaders from different countries, that it was announced that India will also achieve 22 gigawatts (gw) solar energy capacity by the next month and would be able to meet the target of 100 gw by 2022.
India will move the proposal to make all United Nations members eligible for ISA membership in the assembly. Initially, ISA envisaged 121 sunshine countries situated between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn as its members. The amendment will also help induction of countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Nepal and Afghanistan, which have evinced interest in becoming ISA members.
What is ISA
The ISA is a treaty-based international body for the promotion of solar energy in alliance with 121 countries, lying around Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, states like France, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Ghana, Australia, Venezuela, Bangladesh and Fiji. The ISA's major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000 gw of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over $1 trillion into solar energy by 2030.
With the focus on various projects being prepared by different countries in areas, including rural electrification, off-grid solar, water supply and irrigation, the Summit witnessed various announcements.
India's role in ISA:
*Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented 10-action points, including making affordable solar technology available to all nations, raising the share of electricity generated from photovoltaic cells in the energy mix and framing regulations and standards to support the initiative.
*India launched the world's biggest renewable energy programme with a target to generate 175 gw of electricity from renewable sources. Of these, 100 gw is to come from solar and 60 gw from the wind. Of the target for solar energy generation, India has already achieved 20 gw installed solar power.
*India will need $ 83 billion between FY2018 and FY2022 to meet its 175-gw target, according to industry estimates.
*To supplement solar energy generation, India has distributed 28 crore LED bulbs in the last three years which have helped save $ 2 billion and four gw of electricity, the Prime Minister said.
*One of the major announcements came from PM Modi. He called for concessional financing and less-risky funds to fuel solar projects. This would help in raising the share of solar power in the energy sector, provide cheaper electricity and cut carbon emissions.
India’s commitment to using solar energy for mainstream usage is quite strong and here is what you need to know.
*Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the scheme for setting up 1,000 megawatt (mw) of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects with VGF (Viability Gap Fund) support of Rs 1000 crore. Also, the scheme has a mandatory condition that all PV cells and modules used in solar plants set up under this Scheme will be made in India, unlike earlier schemes in which the equipment had to be imported from China.
*Earlier, the Cabinet approved setting up of 25 solar parks of 500 mw capacity each, as also Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects, which will require central government financial support of Rs 4,050 crore. Very recently, the government has approved 34 solar parks with a total capacity of 20 GW in 21 different states. A majority of the target, that is, 60 gw, is to be fulfilled by these solar projects.
*Pradhan Mantri Yojana for Augmenting Solar Manufacturing (PRAYAS) has got Rs 21,000 crore package to promote the production of solar panels and equipment in India. The Indian government is also offering price advantage to the local manufacturers in the tenders for solar panels.
*Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has accorded targets for each state under Grid Connected Rooftop and Small Solar Power Plants Programme. States with highest target includes- Maharashtra- 4,700 mw, Uttar Pradesh- 4,300 mw, Tamil Nadu-3,500 mw, Gujarat- 3,200 mw, Karnataka- 2,300 mw, Rajasthan- 2,300 mw, Madhya Pradesh- 2,200 mw, West Bengal- 2,100 mw.
*One of India’s largest solar power producers recently set up ‘the world’s largest solar power plant’ in Tamil Nadu and also owns a solar power plant in Bitta village, Gujarat. With a total capacity of 40 mw, the electricity generation of this plant is about 63.8 million units.
*West Bengal has the country three largest solar power projects. The single largest grid-connected solar power project is in Murshidabad while the two other proposed projects are five-mw-floating solar project at the site of Santaldih and 10 mw at Barkeswar thermal power plants.
Like any other developing nation, India too is falling short of finances and policies when it comes to meeting targets. According to a media report, government has quietly downscaled its targets for financial year 2017-18 to only 1,000 mw of capacity. While the target was 5,000 mw till as recently as December 21, 2017, the capacity progress report made available in January shows the scaled-down figure. Here’s where the problems lie:
*The policy currently is purely for industrial rooftop projects. They do not have considerable benefits for a residential rooftop.
*State electricity utilities and distribution companies across India aren’t supportive as it could hurt their finances. As more and more commercial and industrial users, who bring the maximum revenues to state discoms take to solar power, the revenues of electricity generators and distributors would fall.
*The government is yet to come out with uniform policies around net metering that allows users to sell surplus power to electric utilities.
With inputs from Housing News