Solar power has the capacity to bring stability to the fluctuating electricity tariffs in India as it is cheaper than thermal and domestic coal, said Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), speaking at ‘Solarcon 2013’, a three-day annual solar energy exhibition that began here on Thursday.

Referring to India’s plans of including a 15 per cent renewable energy mix in its installed capacity by 2020 as part of the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC), he said this might not be possible if large hydel projects were not classified as renewable energy. “We are currently at 6 per cent without the inclusion of large hydro projects,” he added.

About the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, he said, “For the Phase II, 800 MW is the off-grid target. The thrust areas include energy access, diesel replacement, telecom towers, new innovative product, cooling, cold storage, water purification, space heating and water pumping.” Mr. Kapoor also said the MNRE was working towards the removal of import duties on raw materials in order to reduce the cost of manufacturing of solar cells, and was also trying to give some protection to cell manufacturers by insisting that major components be manufactured in India.

Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Harish Hande said off-grid solar power was the key market for India and solar engineering alone would help the industry succeed.