Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission:

Taking the climate changing factors into consideration, Government of India had formulated a policy frame work for enhancing the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix of the country.

The National Solar Mission is a major initiative of the Government of India and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India's energy security challenge. It will also constitute a major contribution by India to the global effort to meet the challenges of climate change. Some important features of the policy are as follows:

Importance and Relevance of Solar Energy for India

1. Cost: 
Solar is currently high on absolute costs compared to other sources of power such as coal. The objective of the Solar Mission is to create conditions, through rapid scale-up of capacity and technological innovation to drive down costs towards grid parity.

The Mission anticipates achieving grid parity by 2022 and parity with coal-based thermal power by 2030, but recognizes that this cost trajectory will depend upon the scale of global deployment and technology development and transfer. The cost projections vary - from 22% for every doubling of capacity to a reduction of only 60% with global deployment increasing 16 times the current level. The Mission recognizes that there are a number of off-grid solar applications particularly for meeting rural energy needs, which are already cost-effective and provides for their rapid expansion.
2. Scalability: India is endowed with vast solar energy potential. About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energy is incident over India's land area with most parts receiving 4-7 kWh per sq. m per day. Hence both technology routes for conversion of solar radiation into heat and electricity, namely, solar thermal and solar photovoltaics, can effectively be harnessed providing huge scalability for solar in India. Solar also provides the ability to generate power on a distributed basis and enables rapid capacity addition with short lead times.

Off-grid decentralized and low-temperature applications will be advantageous from a rural electrification perspective and meeting other energy needs for power and heating and cooling in both rural and urban areas. The constraint on scalability will be the availability of space, since in all current applications, solar power is space intensive. In addition, without effective storage, solar power is characterized by a high degree of variability. In India, this would be particularly true in the monsoon season.
3. Environmental Impact: Solar energy is environmentally friendly as it has zero emissions while generating electricity or heat.
4. Security of Source: From an energy security perspective, solar is the most secure of all sources, since it is abundantly available. Theoretically, a small fraction of the total incident solar energy (if captured effectively) can meet the entire country's power requirements.

It is also clear that given the large proportion of poor and energy un-served population in the country, every effort needs to be made to exploit the relatively abundant sources of energy available to the country. While, today, domestic coal based power generation is the cheapest electricity source, future scenarios suggest that this could well change. Already, faced with crippling electricity shortages, price of electricity traded internally, touched Rs 7 per unit for base loads and around Rs 8.50 per unit during peak periods.

 The situation will also change, as the country moves towards imported coal to meet its energy demand. The price of power will have to factor in the availability of coal in international markets and the cost of developing import infrastructure. It is also evident that as the cost of environmental degradation is factored into the mining of coal, as it must, the price of this raw material will increase. In the situation of energy shortages, the country is increasing the use of diesel-based electricity, which is both expensive - costs as high as Rs 15 per unit - and 8.

Objectives and Targets:
The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible. The Mission will adopt a 3-phase approach, spanning the remaining period of the 11th Plan and first year of the 12th Plan (up to 2012-13) as Phase 1, the remaining 4 years of the 12th Plan (2013-17) as Phase 2 and the 13th Plan (2017-22) as Phase 3. At the end of each plan, and mid-term during the 12th and 13th Plans, there will be an evaluation of progress, review of capacity and targets for subsequent phases, based on emerging cost and technology trends, both domestic and global.

The aim would be to protect Government from subsidy exposure in case expected cost reduction does not materialize or is more rapid than expected. The immediate aim of the Mission is to focus on setting up an enabling environment for solar technology penetration in the country both at a centralized and decentralized level. The first phase (up to 2013) will focus on capturing of the low hanging options in solar thermal; on promoting off-grid systems to serve populations without access to commercial energy and modest capacity addition in grid-based systems. In the second phase, after taking into account the experience of the initial years, capacity will be aggressively ramped up to create conditions for up scaled and competitive solar energy penetration in the country.
To achieve this, the mission targets are:
  • To create an enabling policy framework for the deployment of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022.
  • To ramp up capacity of grid-connected solar power generation to 1000 MW within three years - by 2013; an additional 3000 MW by 2017 through the mandatory use of the renewable purchase obligation by utilities backed with a preferential tariff. This capacity can be more than doubled - reaching 10,000MW installed power by 2017 or more, based on the enhanced and enabled international finance and technology transfer. The ambitious target for 2022 of 20,000 MW or more, will be dependent on the 'learning' of the first two phases, which if successful, could lead to conditions of grid-competitive solar power. The transition could be appropriately up scaled, based on availability of international finance and technology.
  • To create favorable conditions for solar manufacturing capability, particularly solar thermal for indigenous production and market leadership.
  • To promote programs for off grid applications, reaching 1000 MW by 2017 and 2000 MW by 2022.
  • To achieve 15 million sq. meters solar thermal collector area by 2017 and 20 million by 2022.
  • To deploy 20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas by 2022.