India’s original National Solar Mission Target called for the construction of nine gigawatts of solar power capacity between 2014 and 2017. An additional 10 GW were scheduled for 2018-2022. But the country’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has stepped up its expectations and revised the NSMT to add 15 GW of solar capacity by the first quarter of 2019.
This initiative can be credited in part to India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, who has pledged to bring clean electricity to his country’s more than one billion citizens (currently, an estimated 400 million Indians lack access to any electricity at all). As chief minister of the state of Gujarat, Modi oversaw the installation of over 900 megawatts of solar capacity. Now that he’s PM, Modi is pushing an ambitious green revolution, which includes committing the world’s largest coal producer – the nationalized Coal India Limited – to $1.2 billion in solar investments.
According to Clean Technica, India’s current installed power generation capacity is about 250 GW, of which 32.4 GW (or 13 percent) comes from renewable sources. With its new Solar Mission Target, the nation intends to increase that capacity by 12 percent by the end of the decade.
India will be holding auctions for the construction of new solar projects (with capacities between 500 and 1,000 MW) in the next few months. Project developers will be allowed to bid for up to 50 MW per project and companies will be allowed to bid for cumulative capacities of up to 250 MW.
Under the original NSMT, one-third of the new solar capacity was required to only utilize photovoltaic modules manufactured in India. In the new NSMT, that fraction has been revised down.
India is also currently developing what could be the largest solar power plant in the world. This “ultra mega power plant” would be located in Rajasthan and have an installed capacity of 4,000 MW of solar power. A joint venture between five government-owned companies – BHEL, Powergrid Corporation, Solar Energy Corporation of India, Hindustan Salts and Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Limited – is expected to be commissioned in 2016.