India plans to relax solar rules

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India plans to make changes to its solar energy program, including relaxing timelines and increasing project sizes, in order to attract larger companies and boost investment in the sector, the renewable energy secretary said on Wednesday.

The move comes after the program’s first phase failed to generate enough enthusiasm, with critics saying it offered low tariffs and narrow margins, and had financing difficulties and uncertain revenues. Large companies such as Tata Power Co. haven’t yet participated in the program.

The government plans to have 20,000 megawatts of solar energy-based electricity generation by 2022. As part of the first phase, it handed out 620 MW of projects in December and plans to call bids later this month for projects totaling about 300 megawatts.

The first phase is to be completed by March 2013. The government’s move to tweak the program comes after it allocated 4.86 billion rupees ($108 million) in June to guarantee payments to solar power producers and help solar projects overcome funding issues.

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