Solar Innovations In India: Making A Cut With The Momentum For Change Initiative?

Nov 28th, 2011 | By | Category: Advocacy, Carbon, Development and Climate Change, Energy, Financing, Governance, Government Policies, India, International Agencies, Lessons, M-20 CAMPAIGN, Opinion, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Technologies, UNFCCC, Urbanization, Youth Speak

Ms.Suman K ASuman K A: The UNFCCC Secretariat in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will create a series of platforms to encourage adaptation and mitigation projects that have promise to deliver high resilience and low carbon growth. This will be done through the Momentum for Change Initiative to be launched in Durban at CoP17. The first in the series sets out the following broad criteria for show casing such opportunities:

  1. Address climate change adaptation and mitigation
  2. Benefit urban poor especially in developing countries
  3. Public-private collaboration driven
  4. Replicable and scalable
  5. Implemented or under implementation
  6. Impact orientated
  7. Result in measurable Green House Gas (GHG ) emissions reduction
  8. Not registered under CDM /JI project modes

This set of criteria will be further developed after Durban, and used by an independent panel which will select projects for 2012 and beyond.

India’s National Solar Mission under the National Action Plan on Climate Change is identified among the projects likely to be show cased.

But with ambitious targets, the launch of phase 1 of the mission and the rush of players; big and small to cash in on the opportunities across the solar value chain – which of the mission and other solar related innovations can make a cut with the Momentum for Change?

We think the following five innovations across the technology, market, finance and capacity axes perhaps will, based on the broad criteria set above for the initiative.

1) Technology – Solar-Bio Hybrid Power Plant – Technology Demonstration PPP Initiative

DST in Public-Private Partnership mode is supporting a 256 kW Solar Thermal Technology Demonstration Project at village Shive, Pune. Through this plant, DST in association with M/s. Thermax Ltd aims to arrive at reliable estimates of the investments required for rural decentralized power using solar energy, reducing the cost by use of solar-biomass hybrid option.

2) Technology – PAN IIT Initiative Solar Initiative (PSI)   – 1 MW 8 hours per day

This PAN IIT initiative aims at developing pre-competitive research capacity, improving the current status of technology in solar power generation and reducing the costs of technology development and deployment. Technology innovation, knowledge network of 40+ researchers across 5 IITs ((IIT – Kanpur, Delhi, Madras, Bombay and Kharagpur)) and cooperating institutions, academic –industry partnership lay at the heart of this initiative. To this effect NTPC Energy Technology Research Alliance (NETRA) is roped in as the industrial partner.

A 1 MW solar thermal plant with innovative configuration complete with various storage options will be set up at NETRA, Greater Noida as an outcome of this initiative. Also as a part of the initiative, modular solution for islanding, paralleling and resynchronizing – 1 MW, autonomous grid (featuring innovative protection systems, local sensing of grid and grid isolation capability) is proposed to be developed.

3) Market- Gujarat Solar Park Initiative

Charanaka of Patan district in north Gujarat is destined to become the state’s hub of solar power generation. Solar panels will be laid on close to 3,000 acres of land in this village, where the state government is setting up a ‘Gujarat Solar Park’ at an investment of Rs 10,000 crore. The project is part of the Solar Power Policy-2009, which proposes to encourage generation of green power. The chosen site of Charanaka is said to have an insolation of 5.9kWh per metre square per day.

The park being developed by Gujarat Power Corp. Ltd (GCPL); a state nodal agency aims to provide 1000 million units of power on completion. In the first phase, developers are likely to commission 500 MW of generation capacity at the park. The Planning Commission and the ADB are contributing 210 and 500 crore as assistance and soft loan respectively to develop the park.

4) Finance – Asian Development Bank‘s India Solar Generation Guarantee Facility

Government of India’s National Solar Mission (NSM) would allocate a total of 1,100 MW of solar PV and solar thermal capacity to private sector developers through the FY 2012.

NVVN, NTPC’s power trading arm, would be the single buyer of all solar power under the NSM. NVVN will blend solar power with un-contracted thermal power from NTPC and sell it to the state electricity boards / distribution utilities. In addition, several states in India are directly contracting with solar power developers under their own solar projects.

Together, these programs are geared to generate a large number of small solar projects in the range of 2-20 MW (project costs of $6 – 60 million).

To tap this emerging opportunity, ADB launched the India Solar Generation Facility. Through this, ADB seeks to build technical due diligence capacity in commercial banks for lending to solar projects in India.

To this effect, ADB approved a $150 million risk sharing scheme through partial credit guarantees (PCGs) to commercial banks to support such projects. This is likely to addresses lenders’ concerns both on credit risks and long tenors required for viability of solar power projects. The facility further allows ADB to leverage support for projects too small for typical project financing.

Partial Credit Guarantee (PCG)

PCG aims to cover lenders against any non payment by the project on the guaranteed portion of scheduled principal and interest payments either in USD or INR currencies.

Beneficiaries could be both local and international banks. This is likely to help replace 50% of the lenders’ risk on a project, extend loan tenors greater than 12 years and address lender’s capital constraints, single borrower limit, sector and country limit.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) of the UK Government approved a grant of £6 million ($10 million equivalent) to ADB to support this guarantee facility. This grant will buy down 50% of the annual guarantee fees for solar power projects that qualify under this scheme. The objective is to reduce the overall cost of funding to the banks and to catalyze additional lending to the nascent sector.

5) Capacity  – The National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education (NCPRE) at IIT Bombay and its proposed flagship programme – India National Photovoltaics User Programme (INPUP)

The National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education (NCPRE) at IIT Bombay was launched in 2010 as part of the National Solar Mission. NCPRE aims to create and execute the blueprint for human resource development for PV in India and be counted among the leading PV research and education centers in the world.

The centre envisages both basic and applied research activities across silicon solar cell fabrication, characterization, energy storage, new materials and novel PV structures. Development of power electronic interfaces for solar PV systems, new product designs, technology assessment and sociological and environmental impact.

INPUP National Facility

The facilities for solar cell fabrication which cannot be easily replicated elsewhere will be made available to a wider user base.  The experiences and successes of the Indian Nanoelectronics Users’ Programme (INUP) are likely to be replicated for the concept and execution of the Indian National Photovoltaics Users’ Programme (INPUP).

Eventually, NCPRE together with its other capacity enhancing modules and the INPUP aim to make solar PV a cost-effective and relevant technology for meeting significant part of the energy needs of India.

We sincerely hope a couple of financial and policy innovations (especially that give fillip to off-grid and decentralized energy generation and distribution and linked with the National Rural Livelihood Mission ) would make   to the list and turn the climate tide in favour of India…

Featured Photo Credit:  Renew Tech India 2011

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About Author: Suman K A wrote this article for Climate Himalaya’s Youth Speak Column. An Engineer by training Suman has great interest in climate change and mountain issues. She is the founder of Change Planet Partners foundation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Himalaya’s team.

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One Comment to “Solar Innovations In India: Making A Cut With The Momentum For Change Initiative?”

  1. […] be done through the Momentum for Change Initiative to be launched in Durban at CoP17. The […] CLIMATE HIMALAYA-Fostering Knowledge, Innovations and Adaptation Filed under: India Comment (0) Article tags: change, India, Initiative, Innovations, Making, […]

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