India bets on barren land, rail tracks to raise solar capacity

(Reuters, 1 Feb 2020) With land in short supply, India is looking for innovative ideas on where to site solar panels

By Sudarshan Varadhan

NEW DELHI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - India aims to boost solar power generation by encouraging the installation of panels along rail tracks and on barren land, the finance minister said on Saturday as the country looks to cut its carbon footprint and accelerate clean energy production.

Looking to expedite clean energy as some coal-fired power plants face closure, Asia's third-largest economy has set a target to raise renewable energy capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022. Its renewable capacity rose 16% to 85.9 GW in 2019, while coal-fired capacity rose 3.9% to 198.5 GW.

"A scheme to enable farmers to set up solar power generation capacity on their barren/fallow lands and to sell it to the grid would be operationalized," Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech.

She said a proposal is under consideration to set up large solar power capacity alongside rail tracks and raised the outlay for the renewable energy ministry by 48% for 2020/21. She also extended lower tax rates to utilities, which some experts say should mostly help boost renewable energy.

"The announcement to bring new energy companies under the lower corporate tax rate is expected to encourage investments in new energy projects," said Sumant Sinha, chairman of Goldman Sachs-backed ReNew Power.

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Reuters, 1 Feb 2020: India bets on barren land, rail tracks to raise solar capacity