India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has unveiled ambitious plans for expanding the country’s solar capacity, setting a target of 10GW by 2017.

Addressing the annual Solar Power Meet in New Delhi, the minister for new and renewable energy, Farooq Abdullah, set out the Indian government’s aspirations for the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), India’s flagship solar policy.

He said the first phase of the national solar mission had been successful in generating 1.685GW of solar capacity, exceeding the target of 1.1GW, and that the next milestone would be 10GW by 2017 under the second phase of the JNNSM.

Launched in 2010, the JNNSM is targetting 20GW of grid-connected solar power by 2022, in the hope of making solar grid competitive. India’s industry Solar Map reveals the average solar tariff price in India has fallen by 63% in the last three years, with the average tariff being offered now at INR7.7 per kWh.

Abdullah identified the states Rajasthan, Kargil and Ladakh as the best potential locations for generating solar energy to supply the nation, and the need for further research and development in storage of solar energy for longer periods. The minister also said solar power was required in more government buildings and encouraged the use of ‘mobile towers’, to generate solar and wind energy.

The minister gave out 13 awards at the Solar Power Meet for achievements under JNNSM, commending corporate contributions to the government initiative and encouraging further corporate support to make India a global leader in solar energy.

The MNRE secretary, Ratan Watal also highlighted solar energy’s importance in India in the possibility of supplying the 40% of India’s population lacking energy access. To provide one unit of energy to each of the 40% of the population lacking energy access, 15GW of solar energy alone is needed.

The new target follows the announcement of plans for a 4GW solar project in Rajasthan, set to be the largest solar power project in the world, while an ongoing anti-dumping dispute between manufacturers and developers continues to split the industry in two.