Rajasthan Policy 2014 : A Half Hearted Attemp to Achieve 25 GW Solar Power
[ezcol_1half]Recently RRECL has posted the draft policy for solar power 2014 which aims for installing 25000 MW in next 7 – 8 years. The purpose of this document is to develop guidelines and policy framework which enables the solar project developers to achieve the proposed target capacity.
While the state DISCOM have already fulfilled their targeted capacity requirement for solar PV, it is unlikely that the proposed 20000 MW will be required only state specific requirement. We believe that majority of the proposed 25000 MW is targeted for central government schemes, such as SECI VGF scheme, NVVN 1500 MW upcoming projects and several other large/ ultra MW solar power projects will be put up in the state of Rajasthan.
While the existing solar power development in the state is of the order of 730.1 MW, majority of this development has happen under the JNNSM (493.5 MW) and many of these projects are facing curtailment due to inadequate power evacuation facilities available at the RVPN substations. The government also came up with Bhadla Solar Park, however as on date there is hardly any development happen on the ground and project developers are not considering this as their prime location for the installation. Developing a solar project gives various additional advantages to the economy of India, however the solar power development in the state have never been encouraged from the angle of economic development in the region.
Presently the tariff charged by RVPN for using its network is about rupees 1.5 Rs / kWh. It means if the state government facilitate the solar power development and the solar electricity is to be utilized in the nearby states such as, Delhi, Haryana, the solar project developers has to pay a very high transmission charge to RVPN and will never consider Rajasthan as its first destination. He may like to consider the states such as Andhra Pradesh which has transmission charges as low as 0.32 Rs/ kWh.
Given the fact that there are various new projects are in the pipeline from NVVN, it is difficult for NVVN to consider Rajasthan as their preferred destination because of very high transmission charges being charged by RVPN for solar projects.
While the state is planning for new capacity installation of 25000 MW, there is no study done by the government of Rajasthan that how this power can be evacuated from their existing transmission networks to the other states. The state has not identified the available capacity of their substations, wherein solar power can be hooked on.
[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]It is appreciable that government has announced the private solar parks however, the government has not specified any subsidized charges for converting agriculture land to the solar land. Government has to announce some special packages to the private investors to develop the solar park and provide the land on lease/ sublease. The policy to have considered land conversion (deemed conversion) for solar park, in order to expedite a faster development of solar in the state.
The state DISCOM have never been serious in attracting investors in the state in the previous bids of solar project and have ask the developers to match the lowest bid which have led to a situation wherein Rajasthan has only 22.1 MW of installation under the state policy as compare to the planned target of 200 MW. Infect the recent 50 MW small capacity installation bid (1 MW each) was also a failure as the state is forced the bidders to match the L1.
While the state has option to procure solar power through central schemes NVVN/ SECI Programs, the RPO targets can be met at a cheaper rate of Rs 5.50 / kWh. It is meaningless why government of Rajasthan in its proposed solar policy is planning for the future bids to meet their RPO targets.
It could have been better the state government align its policy with the Central government and make Rajasthan as one of the affordable/ most preferred destination for solar power development and would facilitated through providing large land areas along with power evacuation facilities at a subsidized rate so that the solar power project development in the state can be achieved to the tune of 25000 MW as planned in the policy.
Some Very Specific observations are as follows:
- The policy promotes the net metering for rooftop systems, however the carry forward of the injected energy from one year to another year can be considered to adjust the inter-annual variability of solar rooftop generation yield.
- In order to promote the rooftop systems, a feed in tariff (FIT) could have been considered at a low level range of Rs. 7/kWh. The FIT provided by the DISCOM can be eligible for the RPO compliance.
- RVPN should wave off the transmission charges applicable to solar projects, and this cost of additional burden to RVPN can be funded through the Renewable Regulatory Fund or the Clean Energy Fund
- The government or Rajasthan should transparently declare the capacity of existing substations and the next five year plans, so that the solar park developers can accordingly plan their solar park development activities in the respective areas.
- The policy does not clearly highlight the state governments own plans of solar power development. It would have been better if the solar policy could highlight the Government of Rajasthan’s planned annual targets out of the proposed 20000 MW of solar power development. This will help the developers to plan their investment strategy in the state solar program.
Dr. Sanjay Vashishtha