India Announces ‘Solar Zones’ Policy

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India has finally announced a solar zones policy with an aim to significant boost the development of large-scale solar power projects.

According to the policy document released recently, the Ministry will identify and designate 10 solar zones across the country having 10,000 hectares area each. The solar zones will house large-scale solar power projects, solar equipment manufacturing units as well as institutes for training and skill development of youth.

The solar zones shall be carved out of barren and wasteland. Interested project developers would be able to procure or lease this land from the government to set up large-scale projects. Power generated from these projects can be exported across states to help utilities meet their renewable purchase obligation.

With about 50% of the 100,000 hectares earmarked for development of solar power projects, the estimated capacity likely to come up in the solar zones is around 25 GW. This capacity is inline with the government’s recent announcement to increase the capacity of solar power parks in the country.

Initially, the government had announced a target to set up 20-25 GW of solar power parks as part of the 100 GW operational solar power capacity by March 2022. Over the last few months, the MNRE has mentioned plans to double the figure.

One of the possible reasons for the pushing the solar zones policy is the challenge to meet the rooftop solar power target. The government set an extremely ambitious rooftop solar power target of 40 GW operation capacity by March 2022.

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