Solar power market sees growth, but challenges remain

Correcting the misconception of solar power being expensive, getting bank funding and bottlenecks in acquiring land for solar projects are among the major challenges for those keen on investing in this form of renewable energy say industry experts. Participating in a panel discussion on policies at Renergy 2013, a three-day international conference on renewable energy, Vivek Chaturvedi, Chief Marketing Officer, Moser Baer Solar, said the power tariff has dropped from about Rs 20 a unit to less than Rs 6 but public perception continues to be that solar power can be expensive. On policy issues, he pointed out that over 26 approvals were needed for a company to set up a solar farm. Land issues, right-of-way for setting up transmission lines to evacuate power need to be simplified to speed up completion of projects and to bring down costs. Pashupathy Gopalan, Managing Director, SunEdison, a multinational company, said the overall policy is in place in India and revenue streams were stable but the land issue, particularly getting the usage changed from agriculture to industry can be time-consuming. Asset management and services need to be upgraded, he said. The company has been “humbled by challenges in Indian power plants,” Gopalan said. Ideally, investment decision should not be based on the cheapest bidder, he said.

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