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India will unveil its first solar power target as soon as September, pledging to boost output from near zero to 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 as it firms up its national plan to fight global warming, draft documents show.

Well, the National Solar Mission might not yet be formally adopted by Manmohan Singh’s special panel on climate, but it appears that the govt is indeed serious on this! The national solar mission envisages mandates for states to buy some solar power, among others. Money would be spent on incentives for production and installation as well research and development, and the plan offers financial incentives and tax holidays for utilities. Such measures, while they might make some free-market theorists get annoyed, could however be what renewable energy sources such as solar really need in order to have accelerated deployment.

A top Indian climate official recently said that the National Solar Mission contained “quite stiff” targets that could be announced in September 2009.

It was reported that the Mission envisions three phases starting with 1-1.5 GW by 2012, along with steps to drive down production costs of solar panels and spur domestic manufacturing.

Companies such as Tata BP Solar, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and Lanco Infratech must be indeed watching this space very keenly!

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