India Wants More Solar Power But Red Tape is Holding the Industry Back

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Solar PV array

India wants more solar power. On Feb 25, in pursuance of its stated goals, the government sanctioned groundbreaking on 15,000 megawatts (MW) of grid-connected solar projects, to be completed in three stages.

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While this is welcome news for proponents of clean energy, coming especially  on the back of a research report that showed that India’s rate of solar installation in 2014 was 883 MW, down 12% compared to 1,004 MW installed in 2013.

A lot of churn has happened on the renewable energy front in India in the last nine months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his government’s commitment to the sector. India relies overwhelmingly on coal for its energy needs, but the falling cost of solar power has refocused interest in its use for both grid-connected solar parks and home applications

India aims to become one of the world’s largest renewable energy markets, targeting 100,000 MW of output by 2022 from its present-day 3,000 MW.

The report by energy consulting firm Mercom Capital Group of the 12% decline in solar power installation has, honestly, been a bit of a downer for India’s burgeoning solar industry. Mercom’s 2015 forecast remained unchanged at approximately 1,800 MW but had some tangible upside.

The report said the 100 GW solar installation goal setby the Modi government “had thrilled the sector, but the industry is pragmatic and realizes that while 100 GW looks great on paper, the last five years have resulted in only 3,000 MW in solar installations, with last year’s installations at less than 1 GW.”

Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group, said in a written statement that most of the industry was confused as it was constantly bombarded with new policies, goals, drafts and revisions. Other analysts say the Modi government’s focus on the sector could change all of that.

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