Blackouts in India fuel interest in solar power | SupportBiz

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Blackouts in India fuel interest in solar power

First Solar, the biggest thin-film solar panel-maker is looking to develop solar energy-based power projects in India, Asia’s third biggest economy plagued by electricity outages. The company expects demand to ‘come from industrial and commercial consumers without any government subsidies involved,’ according to a news report.

First Solar hopes to capture a 20 percent share of India’s photovoltaic sales by expanding beyond its role as a supplier,’ said Sujoy Ghosh, country head, First Solar was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg report.

The total installed capacity of solar power projects has increased from two MW in 2009 to 1,040 MW as of August. A majority of these are state government-owned solar power projects, according to the government.

India aspires to generate some 20,000 MW of electricity from solar energy by 2020, prompting its  leading builder of electricity networks and airports, Larsen &Toubro (L&T), to scout for contracts in solar power generation; part of L&T’s plan ‘to beat the slowdown in its core engineering and construction businesses,’ the Financial Chronicle reported.

India, this month, also announced an up to 40 percent subsidy on the purchase of solar lanterns, home lights, lower capacity photovoltaic (PV) plants; and solar PV systems through a host of commercial banks, Regional Rural Banks and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development. The remainder of the cost of any device could be funded via loans from these banks at the usual commercial rates, a government press release said. 

India's cash-starved electric utilities were responsible for triggering a blackout that cut power to more than half the country's population on July 31. USD6 billion is spent annually to maitain power back-up equipment, such as diesel-powered gensets, according to commentary published in the Business Line. This equipment is capable of generating 30 GW of power, the Bloomberg article said.