India is finally taking advantage of the heat and scjorching sun by coming out with its long awaited solar mission, one of eight of the missions under the National action plan on climate change.

In its tribute to the sun gods it has promised to achieve a target of producing 20,000 MW of solar power by 2020.

“A draft National Solar Mission document proposing a target of 20,000 MW for solar power by 2020 has received in principle approval of Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change in its meeting held on August 3, 2009,” New and Renewable Energy Minister M r Farooq Abdullah said while replying to a query in Lok Sabha.

Mr Abdullah said that government was planning to add 15,000 MW capacity from renewable energy sources during the 11th Plan Period. By the end of 11th Plan, renewable power capacity is likely to cross 24,000 MW, which would be around 12 per cent of the th en installed power capacity in the country.

The Minister said that by the end of 13th Plan, renewable power capacity would be around 54,000 MW.

We applaud the government for finally having taken a stern step to shift to a low carbon pathway but would like to consider the following points of concern:

1. The document is not officially out and there will be an important meeting between three ministries : power, science and technology and Environment and forests in August to discuss the figures in the document.

2. There is no stakeholder consultation in the process and implementation plan has not been mentioned in the document.

3.Their is a possibility of the solar mission locking India into a corner in the international negotiations. India has asked for full costs of new technologies from the rich countries to limit climate-changing gas emissions at the negotiations. But the solar mission document suggests that India would be able to fund the entire project on its own. Government officials have pointed out that it would be hard to demand additional funds from the industrialised countries if India claims it can afford to sponsor such a large subsidy off its own resources.

4. Sunita Narain – Head of Centre for science and environment has the following to say: We cannot assume that the cost of solar energy will decrease so sharply as given (in the mission document).

We hope that the fun in the sun actually supplements our energy requirments in the process and that the document doesn’t merely remain restricted to paper.

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