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08/30/2012 01:58 PM     print story email story  

India Speeds Solar Auctions, Approves $4.1 Billion for Sustainable Transportation

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India's massive power outage in July, the world's largest, is energizing the nation's interest in solar energy and clean transportation.

Not only is India's government speeding auctions for 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar plant development through 2017, it's planning investments of $4.1 billion to spur electric and hybrid vehicle production.

Speeding Up Solar

Auctions for up to 1,000 MW of new solar could be held before the end of the current fiscal year, reports Bloomberg.

India's National Solar Mission calls for 10% of its energy - 2,000 GW - to be supplied by solar by 2022. Right now, at least half of India's power comes from coal-fired power plants. 

India's solar auctions give the lowest bidder the right to supply energy. Most of its existing capacity - about 1,040 MW - has been built in the last 12 months; another 3,000 MW could be constructed between 2013-2017. 

India has used auctions, along with tariffs and power-bundling arrangements as development incentives to encourage solar development. And that's reduced the cost of solar energy by an impressive 38% from 2010-2011. It is now also considering implementing subsidies, Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, told Bloomberg.

India's last auction in December 2011 awarded 350 MW of solar capacity to utilities including Welspun Group, Mahindra Group and partner Kiran Energy Solar Power Pvt., and Azure Power India Pvt. With the exception of a 10 MW project that was cancelled later, all of those projects should be finished by early next year. 

First Solar has made India a priority for solar project development. It is angling to win 20% of the country's solar PV sales, by working directly with businesses seeking a more predictable energy supply.

The solar transition in India's 30 GW backup power market, is powered mainly by diesel generators, is particularly attractive because high diesel fuel costs and lower solar panel module pricing have make solar power a cost-effective alternative.  

$4.1 Billion for Electric, Hybrid Vehicles

While developers angle for a piece of India's solar market, the country is also taking steps to accelerate the sluggish market for electric and hybrid vehicles.

India's target is 6 million green vehicles by 2020, the vast majority of which (4 million to 5 million) will be two-wheelers,  such as bicycles, scooters and motorcycles.

The government approved a $4.1 billion investment to spur production over the next eight years, with about 60% coming from the public sector and 40% from private companies. reports Reuters

Government officials say the funds will be used for subsidies, research and development support, consumer demand creation, and development of infrastructure. 

Most manufacturers are focused on low-emission conventional cars right now because of the infrastructure for EVs doesn't exist and the vehicles are too expensive. 

India's Tata Motors is among the domestic companies experimenting with green transportation alternatives, although its AIRpod urban car runs on compressed air not electricity.



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