MNRE Urgently Needs Strategic Plan to Achieve 100 GW Solar Target: SCOE

The SCOE has recommended MNRE to speedily work out a strategic plan to achieve the target of 100 GW solar energy within the deadline of 2022

The Standing Committee on Energy (SCOE) recently presented its 17th report on ‘Action Plan for the achievement of 175 Gigawatt (GW) Renewable Energy Target’, relating to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), to the Parliament. In its report, while expressing its displeasure on the pace with which the Ministry has progressed in this significant area i.e. Solar Energy of renewable energy during the last 10 years, the committee has recommended that the Ministry should speedily work out a strategic plan to achieve the target of 100 GW solar energy within the deadline of 2022 which is approaching very fast.

The National Solar Mission (NSM) was launched on January 11, 2010, with the targets of :

  1. deployment of 20,000 MW of grid-connected solar power by 2022
  2. 2,000 MW of off-grid solar applications including 20 million solar lights by 2022
  3. 20 million sq. m. solar thermal collector area
  4. to create favourable conditions for developing solar manufacturing capability in the country; and,
  5. support R&D and capacity building activities to achieve grid parity by 2022. 

Subsequently, the Cabinet in 2015 had approved the revision of cumulative targets under NSM from 20,000 MW to 1,00,000 MW (100 GW) by 2021-22 for grid-connected solar power projects.

In its observations, the SCOE stated that after more than 10 years of the launch of the National Solar Mission in the year 2010 and subsequent declaration in the year 2015 of the target of 100 GW solar Energy as a part of the mission of achieving 175 GW Renewable Energy by the year 2022, the Government has been able to install only 38.79 GW of solar energy in the country upto January 31, 2021.

The ministry however stated that a further 36.03 GW (as of January 31, 2021) of solar projects are under various stages of implementation and 23.87 GW are in the tendering process. 

However, the parliamentary panel believes that the real test lies in their actual commissioning within the scheduled time frame.

Under the ministry’s target to install 40 GW of solar power by setting up over 50 solar parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects by 2022. Against this target, 39 solar parks of an aggregate capacity of 22,879 MW have been approved to be set up in 17 states. Out of these approved solar parks, infrastructure in 8 solar parks is almost fully developed where solar projects of aggregate capacity of 6580 MW have also been commissioned and 4 solar parks are partially developed where solar projects of aggregate capacity of 1365 MW have been commissioned.

The panel noted that the remaining 11 solar parks of aggregate capacity of 17,121 MW have not even got the approval of the Ministry although these solar parks have to be developed and projects therein commissioned by 2022. Further, only 20 percent of the 82 approved solar parks are fully developed so far and another 10 percent are only partially developed leaving as much as 70 percent unachieved. MNRE 100 GW Solar Target

The Committee stated that it is “disappointed” with the slow progress made so far as the Ministry has been able to fully develop only 8 solar parks in more than 5 years (2015-20) and an aggregate capacity of 32,055 MW is yet to be commissioned in order to achieve the stipulated target by 2022. 

The Ministry in response has informed that the major challenge in the development of solar parks is the acquisition of land that is dependent upon cooperation from the State Governments and other stakeholders. 

However, the panel is of the opinion that it is inexplicable as to why 11 solar parks are yet to get approval from the Ministry even after the lapse of more than three years. The Committee believes that the exercise of setting targets is rendered meaningless if Ministry-level approvals take such an undue long time. The Committee would therefore expect the process of granting approvals to be completed expeditiously so that the project can be implemented in a given time-frame.

Keeping in view the fact that the solar power projects are land-intensive projects, which require large flat tracts of shadow-free contiguous land with accessibility, the Committee specifically recommends that: 

  1. The Ministry should actively explore the option of using surplus land available with various public sector undertakings and different State Governments for setting up solar parks expeditiously.
  2. The Ministry should encourage all the airports in a time-bound manner, to set up solar projects on the lines of Kochi Airport which is the first fully solar-powered airport in the world.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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