Modi Government Nod For $120-Mn
Solar Power Projects For Defense

By Arming India Correspondent

NEW DELHI: India's 3.5-million strong armed and paramilitary forces will get a power boost over the next five years at a cost of Rs.750 crore (Rs.7.5 billion/$120 million).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet on Dec. 10 gave its seal of approval for setting up of the over 300-MW grid-connected and off-grid Solar PV power projects by defense establishments under the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and para-military forces under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The power plants would come up through the Viability Gap Fund (VGF) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) in five years from 2014 to 2019, according to the decision posted on the Press Information Bureau (PIB) website.

However, this approval came with the mandatory rider that stipulated that all the PV cells and modules used in the solar plants set up under this scheme would be be made in India, thereby giving a boost to this sector under the 'Make in India' push of the Modi government

"Provision of an amount of Rs.750 crore for Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) for the purpose," the statement on the Cabinet decision said.

Permission was also accorded by the Cabinet for the right to use defense land by the developers chosen by Defense establishments by way of lease and otherwise or for self-use of the same by the Defense establishments themselves, for the purpose of setting up of solar power projects and sale of excess power to distribution companies.

"The Defence organisations/establishments will be free to own the power projects. That is, get an EPC contractor to build the project for them or get a developer, who makes the investment and supplies power at a fixed tariff of Rs.5.50 per unit," the statement said.

"Installation of solar power plants in Defense sector by utilizing available land or rooftop will help in achieving energy security and promote ecologically sustainable growth," it said.

"The use of domestically manufactured equipment shall boost indigenous production of solar cells and modules. Defense organisation will be able to get clean power at reasonable price for 25 years" it added.

In another decision, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Modi, approved the scheme for setting up of 1,000 MW of grid-connected Solar PV power projects with Viability Gap Fund support of Rs.1,000 Crore (Rs.10 Billion/$160 Billion) by CPSUs under various central and state schemes, in three years from 2015-16 to 2017-18.

Again, it was stipulated that all PV cells and modules used in solar plants set up under this scheme would be mandatorily be made in India. "All states and union territories are eligible for benefiting under the scheme" the CCEA decision posted on the PIB website said.

"India will emerge as a major solar power producing country as nowhere in the world are solar parks are being developed on such a large scale," it added.



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