India Budget Plans 2 Gigawatts Solar Farms to Double Capacity

Feb 17, 2014 3:52 am ET

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- India plans to start work on at least 2 gigawatts of solar farms in the year starting April that would nearly double its current photovoltaic capacity.

The proposed new capacity would take the form of four so- called mega solar power projects capable of generating more than 500 megawatts each, Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said today in New Delhi in a speech announcing an interim budget that would provide funds until a new parliament is elected in national polls due by May.

A record 15 percent of about 800 million voters will be eligible to cast ballots for the first time as the rising cost of electricity turns into an electoral issue. With the solar farms announced today and already existing targets, India is planning a sixfold increase in solar capacity by 2017 to reduce blackouts and diversify away from coal and gas-fired plants hamstrung by fuel shortages.

The country added 29 gigawatts of power-generation capacity between April to December, Chidambaram said. India’s peak power deficit dropped to 4 percent in January, from 11.4 percent a year earlier, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority.

--Editors: Madelene Pearson, Abhay Singh