• Solar Zones Policy introduced by the Indian government will have 10 solar zones across the nation
  • Solar Zones different from Solar Parks as the government will only facilitate the land acquisition but will not acquire it on its own
  • The policy will be eligible for central financial assistance (CFA) of 440 million INR ($6.54 million).
  • Solar manufacturing units can also come up in the solar zones with 25% of the area reserved for deployment by manufacturers of Made In India ingots, wafers, cells and modules
  • States will have to designate a nodal agency with SECI overseeing the project implementation

India has announced the implementation of a Scheme for Development of Solar Zones, which will be in effect starting from current fiscal year to 2020-21. Under the scheme, 10 solar zones will come up with each having 10,000 hectares of government or privately owned wasteland, uncultivable or fallow land in one or more than one patches. However, the administration has not shared in which states these zones will be set up.

The policy will be eligible for central financial assistance (CFA) of 440 million INR ($6.54 million).

In a big push to its solar manufacturing industry, the new policy will allocate 25% of the area for deployment by domestic manufacturers of ingots, wafers, solar cells and modules. Another 25% area will be for small and medium enterprises, farmers and unemployed youth; the remaining 50% will be reserved for solar project developers.

Solar Zones different from Solar Parks
The policy will differ from that of Solar Parks, as in the case of latter the government acquires land for projects to be developed. Under the Solar Zones policy, the government will facilitate the acquisition of land for the purpose, but it will not directly acquire the land itself. At the same time, transmission lines are laid by the government in a solar park, but in solar zones developers will only be given several interconnection points and they will have to connect the same at their own level. Solar manufacturing units can also be built in the zones.

At the end of May 2016, there were reports of the Indian government planning a new policy on solar zones, with a view to helping project developers and solar equipment manufacturers (see Solar Zones Policy). With the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) being involved, this policy will have states playing a proactive role by designating an agency specifically for the purpose. SECI will work under the aegis of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to implement
the scheme.

The government wants to set up the Solar Zones Policy as a flagship demonstration facility. It is supposed to help states with investments from solar power project developers, support them in achieving their Solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) as well as create jobs in the solar sector within the selected states. SECI will evaluate the techno-economic feasibility report carried out by the states and then give its recommendations to the Ministry.

SECI will distribute parts of the CFA for the feasibility survey, preparation of the detailed project report and setting up of a nodal office, Solar Radiation Resource Assessment (SRRA) in every single zone.