Solar Park Gujarat India
A file photograph of a solar park in the western Indian state of Gujarat Reuters

India has ramped up its target for solar energy in a bid to help meet rising electricity demand and overcome recurrent outages that trouble Asia's third-largest economy.

Now, New Delhi wants companies from China, Japan, Germany and the US to lead investments of $100bn (£64bn, €83bn) over seven years to boost India's solar energy capacity by 33 times to 100,000 megawatts (MW), Upendra Tripathy, the top official in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy told Reuters.

This will raise India's solar energy share to over 10%. By comparison, in Germany, a leader in clean energy, solar accounted for about 6% of total power generated in 2014.

Tripathy, admitted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new solar target was ambitious and said "...if you do not have a higher goal, you will not achieve anything."

Tripathy added: "[Solar companies'] problems are who is the buyer, where is the land and can India have a regime where they can raise low-cost capital?

"These three issues have to be addressed and we are addressing them."

Foreign companies told the news agency that they were encouraged by Modi's plan but that red tape was still be an issue in the nation.

Canadian Solar's country manager for the Indian sub-continent Vinay Shetty said: "The policy framework needs to be improved vastly. Documentation is cumbersome. Land acquisition is time-consuming. Securing debt funding in India and financial closures is a tough task."

Energy investments

In November 2014, India's power minister said the world's second-most populous nation will need $250bn in investments over the next five years to meet an expected doubling of energy consumption.

Power Minister Piyush Goyal, speaking at the World Economic Forum's India Economic Summit in New Delhi, estimated that $100bn will find its way into renewable energy.

He also estimated India's total power consumption to double to two trillion units by 2019, reports said.

Goyal said the majority of the funds will come from the private sector, but that the government will also invest more.

India gets twice as much sunshine as many European countries that tap solar power. But the renewable energy source contributes less than 1% to India's energy mix.