In an exclusive conversation with CNBC-TV18, Power Minister Piyush Goyal spoke about the government's solar mission.
One of the developments that has brought India onto the world map is solar energy. From a figure of 2,650 MW, capacity has increased to 10,000 MW in just over two years. This is important as the increase has taken place when tariff rates had crashed over the years. From a tariff rate of around Rs 12 per unit in 2010, solar power touched a tariff of Rs 2.62 per unit in the recently auctioned Bhadla Solar Park, Rajasthan.
Solar energy in India is now cheaper than coal power. In an exclusive conversation with CNBC-TV18's Sanjay Suri - Power Minister, Piyush Goyal spoke about the government's solar mission.
Below are the excerpts of the interview.
Q: What are your thoughts on unsustainable level of price?
A: About the unsustainable level of the price, I have heard that story for the last three years every time we determined a lower price. I heard it when 12 cents became 10 when 10 became 8 when 8 became 5 and today we are at 4.
Q: There has to be a bottomline somewhere?
A: I do not know. I thought it was already quite low in last bidding and all of this is transparent bidding where international companies are participating. So you had some of the world's most renowned companies win the last bid at 4 cents per kilowatt-hour - that is something which government is not mandating or pushing; it is determined by market forces - that's the advantage of economies of scale, of transparency and honesty in our procurement process, newer technologies being deployed which we are enjoying and as regards growth you will be happy to know our solar installed capacity has grown by 370 percent in the last three years and this rapid growth is going to continue in the years to come.
Q: With the conventional energy sources still feeding the grid substantially, are there plans to overhaul existing units or even scrap some of them - that would bring in fresh capital among other things?A: I did an analysis and I found that if we replace all the old coal based power plant, the thermal plant which are quite inefficient, old technology with superefficient, supercritical modern technology, the amount of saving in terms of carbon dioxide emissions and pollution is probably far more than the amount of reduction in carbon dioxide emission that new renewable energy brings in. So we have already embarked on a programme - NTPC, which is the country's national utility, generating 1/4th of our power, has already taken a decision to replace all plant which are more than 25 years old with supercritical modern plant. We are in dialogue with other states who largely own the older plant to see if we can replace them with supercritical new technologies and then this process will continue over the next few years so that we can gradually move into a far more efficient way of producing power, using our indigenous material coal. We have set very tight environmental standards which over the next five-seven years will become almost mandatory for all power plant to follow.