To promote generation of energy from renewable sources, the Central Government has decided to invest Rs. 500 crore on its research, development and technology demonstration during the XI Plan.

“My ministry has made a provision of Rs.500 crore for taking up research, design, development and technology demonstration in the area of new and renewable energy,” New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah said in Lok Sabha on Friday.

The government had already taken up around 77 projects and sponsored various R&D institutions for the Plan period.

These projects include development of high efficiency solar cells, hydrogen and fuel cells; solar photovoltaic and solar thermal power generation; high-rate bio-methanation; and medium and large capacity biogas plants for energy and power generation, Mr. Abdullah said in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha. The Minister also said that Rs.303 crore had been released to States and Union Territories under the Central Financial Assistance (CFA) for various solar energy projects.

These new projects would also help in employment generation, he said, and pointed out that a wind power project would help in the creation of 6-10 direct and 30 indirect jobs per megawatt capacity addition.

Mr. Abdullah said that India’s first megawatt size grid-connected solar power plant had been inaugurated at Jamuria in Asansol district of West Bengal.

“Two more plants of 2 MW capacity each have been set up in Karnataka’s Kolar and Belgaum districts, while another 1 MW plant will come up in Raichur district in Karnataka. We have recently cleared proposals to set up another 28 MW capacity solar plants,” he added.

“The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission envisages major participation of private sector by setting up grid-connected solar power projects on build-own-operate basis.

Under the mission, three major steps are proposed — create volumes which will allow domestic manufacture; support R&D to reduce material consumption and improve efficiency; and announce long-term policy to purchase power. The first phase target of the Mission is 1,100 MW grid solar power capacity by March, 2013. An amount of Rs.4,337 crore has been approved for implementation of its first phase,” he added.

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