State plans solar power policy for farmers
In a relief to Maharashtra farmers, the state government is planning a policy for distributed generation of solar power for agricultural consumers. It is also looking at generating solar energy through the use of innovative ideas, such as projects on rooftops of Metro railways proposed in Maharashtra and atop irrigation canals.
Of the 7,500MW of grid-connected solar power capacity to be added under the state’s new and renewable energy policy, the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (MahaGenco) will generate 2,500MW, with the rest to be provided by the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA).
“Of this 2,500MW, 1,000MW will be through private public partnership (PPP) on government land, 500MW by engineering procurement construction (EPC) contracts, 500MW under the Centre’s solar parks schemes, another 250MW by agricultural feeders and 250MW through innovative ideas, such as solar panels on irrigation canals and Metro railways,” said a senior MahaGenco official.
“We are working on a policy for agricultural feeders. Many agricultural feeders are supplied power at night and not during the day. We may identify agricultural feeders with a heavy power demand and install solar panels to supply energy to these farmers even in the day. This will reduce the load on the state’s grid, and allow agriculturists to use their pumps to water their fields even during the day,” the official added.
Now, agricultural connections get power for 8 hours in the day or 10 hours in the night. Since agriculture consumers are heavily subsidised, this use of solar energy will reduce the cross subsidy burden on industrial consumers and consequently their electricity tariffs.
The MahaGenco official said they have also initiated “technical talks” with the Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation for installing sheds on Metro railway routes for generating energy. The utility has located 10 sites to add around 630MW of solar power capacity. It already has a 180MW installed solar energy capacity, including 125MW at Shivajinagar in Dhule, 50MW at Shirsuphal in Pune and 5MW in Chandrapur.
This includes Kaudgaon in Osmanabad (50MW over 188 hectare) and Sakhri in Dhule (55MW on 88 hectare). Both these projects are expected to be commissioned in 2017 and work has been undertaken on EPC basis. The other sites include Dondaicha, Malkhed, Pimpri, Mangladevi, Lohara, Shindala in Latur, Ballarshah in Chandrapur and Uran in Raigad. Of these, the Dondaicha site is being looked at for commissioning of the solar energy park.
The state irrigation department is looking at developing solar power projects on its unutilised lands to generate electricity for its lift-irrigation schemes and is also planning to set up Maharashtra’s first grid-connected canal top solar power project on the Waghur dam in Jalgaon.
The new and renewable energy policy approved by the state Cabinet aims at creating 14,400MW of fresh grid-connected installed capacity in the sector by 2019-20. This includes 7,500MW from solar energy, and wind energy and baggase-based co-generation will contribute 5,000MW and 1,000MW respectively.
Small hydro projects with a capacity of 5MW and lesser will make up for 400MW, 300MW is proposed to be generated from industrial waste and 200MW from biomass. Energy minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule said the policy will entail an investment of Rs1 lakh crore.
Maharashtra accounts for 13,500MW of India’s assessed renewable energy potential of 89,411MW. At present, it has 6,702.93MW of installed green energy capacity, including 4,442.05MW in wind, 1,448.40MW in co-generation, 157MW in biomass, 287.72MW in small hydro, 22.51MW in municipal solid waste, industrial waste and sewerage and 345.25MW in solar energy. It is one of the seven states endowed with good solar energy potential.