India inaugurates new 750 MW solar park as it aims to grow domestic industry

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A few days ago, India took one more step in the clean energy direction when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated one of the world’s largest solar parks in Rewa in central India.

The launch of the massive 750 megawatt (MW) power plant in the province of Madhya Pradesh came even as India announced it would stop solar equipment imports from China, one of the biggest exporters of solar power equipment, and Pakistan because of the border skirmish with China.

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In 2015, when India announced its aim of installing 100 GW of solar power capacity by 2022, the country only had about 3 GW of existing installations.

By mid-2020, clean energy projects account for over a fifth of India’s installed power generation capacity. India has 34.6 gigawatt (GW) of solar power.

The newly inaugurated solar project also has the distinction of being the first to sell power across Indian states, bringing sharp focus on the importance of signing long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) in the solar sector — just like those signed for thermal power plants — to make the projects competitive. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the MP Power Management Company Limited (MPPMCL), the holding company for all the power state distribution firms, are major buyers from the Rewa plant.

What’s more, as much as 60% of the Delhi Metro network now runs on electricity from the Rewa solar project.

After the inauguration, Modi tweeted, “This project adds momentum to our commitment of increasing renewable energy capacities by 2022.”

According to a report by Livemint, apart from being India’s first solar project to conduct interstate sale of electricity, the auction process also became the template for awarding future projects in the country. That power purchase agreement (PPA) has now been accepted as a standard model by India’s Ministry of New And Renewable Energy to achieve the lowest electricity tariff rates through competitive bidding.

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Following its border skirmish with China and continued emphasis on the government’s Make In India program, India is encouraging Indian companies to manufacture solar power equipment in order to reduce import dependency on solar panels and related equipment.

The Indian government has placed emphasis on increasing local production of solar modules and solar batteries.

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