India may increase its solar energy capacity four-fold during the next fiscal year ending March 2017, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Coal, Power and Renewable Energy says.
“Today our solar capacity is about 4,500 MW and the capacity addition target for this year is about 2,000 MW. During 2016-17, we are hoping to add 12,000 MW in solar sector alone. Thus, including other renewable sources, there will be a total capacity addition of about 15,000 MW during next fiscal,” he said.
The government is focusing on speed, skill and scale rather than subsidies to drive reforms and progress in the energy sector. The minister said water heaters that ran on solar energy had subsidy components some years ago.
“Our government inherited a huge subsidy bill,” he said adding, “If you keep depending on the clutches of the government, you would never able to achieve scale and path breaking innovation. Our government will handhold and support you in the initial period for a while, but ultimately the project has to be techno-economically viable,” he added.
He highlighted the pace with which LED bulbs were distributed in the country as part of government’s energy efficiency drive initiative. Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), a public sector entity engaged in distribution of LED bulbs, is expected to contribute about seven crore bulbs this year.
“The same company distributed six lakh bulbs in 2013-14 during previous government’s regime. Due to economies of scale, the prices have come down by 76 per cent now. It is a standalone project now and there is zero subsidy. Upfront payment is Rs.10 and the balance is paid over 10 months. Today, about 4 lakh bulbs are distributed every single day,” he added.
Mr Goyal also said that the ministry was expediting electrification of all villages without power. As on April 1, 2015, there were 18,452 villages across 19 states without electricity.
“Prime Minister, in August this year, has asked us to electrify these villages in the next 1,000 days. But we have taken a pledge to achieve that in the next 730 days. Currently we are electrifying 100-120 villages every day. We will ramp it up to 200 villages a day. We have also planned to install off-grid systems in villages that pose challenges for grid power,” he stated.
Maharashtra may waive all taxes for EVs
Maharashtra is likely to be the first State to waive value added tax (VAT), registration charges and road tax on electric vehicles (EVs), according to Mr.Goyal.
“I suggested it to the Maharashtra Chief Minister some time ago to waive all taxes on EVs as a mark of our support to clean environment. He was very responsive to the idea. So, I am confident that the state will exempt EVs from VAT, registration and tax charges,” he said.
On the challenges of imposing a charge on infrastructure for EVs, he stated: “I would ideally like to see every petrol bunk in the country to have a charging station. Normally, such vehicles can be charged at home. But, if one is doing long distance travel, he/she should be in a position to do that at a charging station. We are working on building that infrastructure.
“It could be a public-private partnership or initially seeded by the government and then subsequently it could become a business model. Also, power will no longer be an issue we have surplus coal and power in the country today.”
He added that the government was keen on facilitating faster roll-out of EVs across the states and government would partner with initiatives relating to EVs, hybrid technology or biogas programmes.