India to expand national solar mission

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India’s president Pranab Mukherjee has revealed the country's flagship national solar programme is to be expanded.

Addressing a parliamentary sitting, Mukherjee said focus on energy development would be a priority and that a National Energy Policy would be revealed soon.

Announcements on India’s energy policy are eagerly awaited following the recent elections and the appointment of prime minister Narendra Modi, of the Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (or Indian people’s BJP party).

Mukherjee said the National Energy Policy is to detail developments on energy infrastructure and expanding energy access, with a mix of new and renewable sources and fossil fuels, Mukherjee said.

As part of this he said the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) would be expanded.

Also new nuclear power is to be developed and there are to be coal sector reforms to increase private sector investment.

As part of his election campaign, Modi advocated solar power to empower people and mitigate corruption, while warning of the economic dangers of relying on imported coal.

In its ‘vision document’ the BJP plans to eradicate shortages of electricity, by giving every home at least one light bulb’s worth of electrification, by harnessing solar power. Also in the BJP’s 2013 manifesto, continuous power, solar-powered agriculture pumps and street lighting are all specifically mentioned.

The JNNSM is currently in its second stage and aims for 20GW of solar to be installed by 2022. India currently has 2.5GW of installed capacity, according to consultant, Bridge to India.

Last week, Modi appointed Piyush Goyal as India’s new energy minister.

However, just before Modi’s election win, anti-dumping measures were put in place on solar products imported into India.

One of India’s largest solar project developers, Welspun, said the anti-dumping measures go against the newly elected prime minister’s manifesto, while Bridge to India warned the measures would set India’s solar market back by two years.

Further announcements on the ruling are expected from the new government soon.

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