India to award 1,300MW of solar tenders in 2011

Solar power to bring electricity to remote areas of India

India plans to award major construction contracts for solar projects this year. Photo: Getty.
India plans to award major construction contracts for solar projects this year. Photo: Getty.

by Florian Neuhof
Editor, Utilities Middle East

India is to award contracts for solar arrays with a capacity of 1,300MW by the end of this year in a bid to improve the supply of electricity to remote rural areas, according to a government minister.

“Our biggest challenge is to get the energy to the people living in villages,” said Dr. Farooq Abdullah, minister of new and renewable energy. “The advantage of solar energy is that it can provide electricity to remote areas.”

Currently, 40% of India’s population is still without access to electricity, said the minister.

The government has already allotted solar projects worth 800MW to developers, said Abdullah, and has made renewables attractive to the private sector by adopting feed –in tariffs, a quasi subsidy which make solar commercially viable vis-à-vis fossil fuels.

In spite of the added cost of the tariffs, the price of solar power has come down dramatically, according to the minister.

“The price of solar energy has come down to 12 rupees from 48 rupees [per kw/h],” he said.

India plans to generate 1,000MW of electricity from solar by 2013, and 20GW by 2020, according to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission initiative endorsed by the government in 2009.

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