India plans to install 20 million solar lights and 20 million square metres of solar panel to generate 20,000 MW by 2022 as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said on Monday.

“By 2022, we aim to install 20 million square metres of solar thermal collectors and save 7,500 MW power generation capacity,” he said at the launch of the mission here. “We want 20 million solar lights to be installed by 2022, which would result in a saving of one billion litres of kerosene every year.”

As per the official data, of India’s total installed generation capacity of 155.8 GW, renewable energy accounts for a mere 10 per cent. Most of this clean power is derived from wind, while solar power’s share is negligible.

“In the next three years, India plans to add 1,300 MW of solar power, of which 1,100 MW will be grid-connected and 200 MW will be off-grid. This is our first benchmark. If we achieve this, achieving the remaining target will not be impossible. A huge constraint in the commercial use of solar energy has been its cost. Today, the initial cost of solar energy is very high, especially for grid power generation. We aim to bring down the cost as quickly as possible,” Dr. Abdullah said.

Over the next three years, he said, the NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam would purchase solar power at rates fixed by the Central Regulatory Electricity Commission. When the State utilities bought solar power from the NVVN, they would get an equivalent amount of thermal power. “The bundling of more expensive solar power with cheaper thermal power will facilitate cheaper tariff for the consumer, estimated to be Rs. five or less per unit.”