• India's government has approved plan to implement Phase III of Off-Grid and Decentralized Solar PV Application Program
  • Under Phase III, it will aim to install 118 MW of off-grid solar PV capacity by 2020
  • Through the scheme, it will focus on 3 components, 3 million solar street lights, stand alone solar power systems up to 25 kW, and 2.5 million solar study lamps for school children in off-grid regions, especially in the north east of the country and those affected by Left Wing Extremism
  • The government estimates the implementation of this phase to cost a total of 18.95 billion INR ($282.67 million), of which 6.37 billion INR ($95 million) will come as central financial assistance

India will implement Phase-III of its Off-Grid and Decentralized PV Application Program, which targets an additional 118 MW of off-grid solar PV capacity by 2020. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a go-ahead for the program.

Under Phase III of this scheme, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) will focus on three components.

Firstly, the program will aim to install 3 million solar street lights across the country. Special emphasis will be on North Eastern states and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts.

Secondly, stand alone solar power plants with individual size of up to 25 kW will be promoted in off-grid areas or where the grid power is not reliable. These projects will aim to provide electricity to schools, hostels, panchayat or local village councils, police stations and other public service institutions. PV capacity for this component has been capped at 100 MW.

For both of the above categories, the government will provide financial support. In North Eastern states, hill states and island union territories, 90% of the benchmark cost will be provided by the government, and for the rest of the country, 30% of the cost will be borne by the government.

Another 2.5 million solar study lamps will be provided in North Eastern states and LWE affected districts under the third component. These will be provided to school going children in backward and remote areas who will be required to pay 15% of the lamp cost. Rest will be borne by the government.

In all, Phase-III of the project will cost 18.95 billion INR ($282.67 million), out of which 6.37 billion INR ($95 million) will form central financial assistance.

The government estimates this phase of the program will benefit 40 million rural households in the country and will generate employment opportunity for skilled and unskilled workers. It will also help further chances of self-employment.