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Indian State Establishes Solar Policy

The state of Tamil Nadu in southern India is establishing its own solar-energy policy after accusing the central government’s National Solar Mission (NSM) of leaving the region on its own. A growing number of Indian states have moved to dissociate their solar futures from the NSM, which has been beset by project delays and accusations of departmental lack of oversight.

Electricity minister Natham Viswanathan says the state is preparing to unveil a solar-support initiative designed to generate 3-GW of new capacity by 2016. In 2011, India was only able to add a disappointing 180-MW of PV capacity. On a more positive note, it’s expected there will be surge of project completions by the end of Q2 in 2012.

Viswanathan claims that Tamil Nadu, which suffers from a severe power shortage despite having more than 40 percent of India’s installed wind capacity, has only achieved 22-MW of solar capacity allocated so far under the NSM, out of the 1-GW that has been doled out. Tamil-Nadu needs to make up an estimated 4-GW generation-capacity deficit. The state is also reportedly almost a year behind in its payments to some wind developers.

Recently, the Delhi government cancelled a program under that paid consumers who set up solar panels on their roof-tops to feed extra power generated into the main grid. Officials felt the initiative could be exploited, such as producing power through cheaper means and selling it to electricity distribution companies at higher rates.

A senior government official told The Economic Times, “It would be impossible to keep a tab on solar capacity on each roof-top and if someone produced power from cheap polluting diesel generator sets and fed that into the grid, we would never get to know. The difference in cost between solar power and that generated by fuel is massive. We will have to look at alternative schemes now.”

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