Venturing into solar energy, Moser Baer India Ltd, the nation’s largest maker of compact discs, will invest $250 million (Rs1,115 crore) over three years to set up a solar energy plant.
Moser’s Moser Baer Photo Voltaic Ltd unit will partner US’ Applied Materials Inc. to set up the plant, which will use an advanced ‘thin film’ technology, in Greater Noida.
Though thin film technology as well as the single cryltalline silicon technology are used in India, this is the first time that solar modules will be manufactured in the country through the use of both these technologies, Moser said. “Because the thin film technology uses glass, it is comparatively more cost-effective than the silicon wafer method. If we increase the yield, the cost will come down further to the grid level,’’ said Deepak Puri, Moser managing director. Grid electricity costs an average of Rs3.5 a kilowatt-hour for a domestic customer and Rs5 for industrial users.
The plant aims to generate 200MW solar power capacity by 2009. Demand for thin-film technology “right now is in the rural areas and those not connected by the power grid,’’ said Mahesh Vipradas, fellow at The Energy Research Institute. Construction of the plant will begin next week and it will initially generate 40MW of solar energy by next April, at an initial investment of $100 million, Moser chief financial officer Yogesh B. Mathur said.