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"India has Huge Potential for Solar Power Generation"
Devendra Surana, Managing Director, Surana Group Solar Thermal and Solar Photovoltaic (PV) are the two different ways to generate solar energy. Recently updated data by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy shows that solar photovoltaic installations in India have crossed the 1,000 MW or 1 gigawatt (GW) mark. Till this time (July 2012), India has grid interactive solar PV installed capacity of 1,030.66 MW. Most of the capacities have come up in Gujarat.

In the wake of increasing fossil fuel prices, natural energy resources, particularly Solar Energy has become crucial subject to explore, examine and execute. Since 2008, when the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission as a part of National Action Plan on Climate Change was launched for the first time to address the energy issues in the country, India has been considered to be a great country that can make the best of Solar Energy.

The aforesaid national plan pointed out that ¬India is a tropical country, where sunshine is available for longer hours per day and in great intensity. Solar energy, therefore, has great potential as future energy source. It also has the advantage of permitting the decentralised distribution of energy, thereby empowering people at the grassroots level.

The plan had defined number of targets, including need to create policy framework for the deployment of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022 and to develop favourable conditions for solar manufacturing capability.

It has also highlighted the importance to enhance manufacturing capabilities and R&D for Solar India. Indian government duly acknowledged the potential of solar energy and has been trying to boost solar energy in the country since the mission was launched for the first time. However, the speed of the execution of the plan remains a matter to debate.

In an exclusive conversation with CEW, Devendra Surana, Managing Director, Surana Group, said that the potential of solar power in India is huge. Especially wherever, the land is not arable, solar power is good alternative to harness solar energy. ĄWe need to make some changes in the policies, which are responsible for encouraging the solar power projects in the country. It is good alternative and can meet our energy requirements on long-term basis,Ą Surana added.

Citing the example of Gujarat where Surana Group has set up 5 MW project, Surana said, "State government policies throughout the country are different. Leveraging on effective state policies and sound infrastructure, Gujarat has really done well in undertaking such projects."

When asked about the cost factor, Surana commented, "At present the solar power is slightly more expensive than grid power but if you compare the rates till three years back, grid power was about 3 rupee and solar power was 18 rupee. Today, grid power costs 5 rupee per unit, while the solar power is 8 rupee per unit. So, the difference has come down drastically. And as government wanted to spend 1000 thousands on subsidising solar projects earlier, the amount can be used to generate five times more power in today's time. Further, well-developed infrastructure to evacuate the solar energy is also of great importance. Today in India, we are paying very high interest on solar power projects.

I strongly feel that if interest subsidy should be given to companies executing solar projects."

Solar Thermal and Solar Photovoltaic (PV) are the two different ways to generate solar energy. Recently updated data by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy shows that solar photovoltaic installations in India have crossed the 1,000 MW or 1 gigawatt (GW) mark. Till this time (July 2012), India has grid interactive solar PV installed capacity of 1,030.66 MW. Most of the capacities have come up in Gujarat.

According to Surana, Solar Photovoltaic is much better option. He said, ĄThe cost to set up Solar Photovoltaic is much cheaper than Solar Thermal units. PV is really much cheaper because the cost to set up a PV unit has come down close to 7-7.5 crore per MW about. And for solar thermal unit the cost is about 10 cores per MW. Madya Pradesh is Doing Well Beside Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madya Pradesh are the other states that are likely to excel in the sector, he added. Recently, Madhya Pradesh government has approved a new solar energy policy, under which four solar energy parks each generating 200 MW of power will be set up in the state in public-private partnership.

So far, the state has given clearance for setting up 297-MW capacity solar power projects in the state. Further, country s biggest solar power project, with a capacity to generate 130 MW power, is being set up in Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh.

Opportunities for Equipment Supplier Currently, solar energy contributes about close to 0.25 to 1 per cent, but I feel in the near future, say five to seven years, we can reach up to 10 per cent. Surana believes, as the country witness progress in solar energy production and distribution, everyone associated with the sector will be benefited.