Fresh Policy push to support solar energy on cards

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With state utilities reluctant to buy solar power, the central government is looking at incentivising setting up of industrial parks within solar parks to attract enhanced investment and accelerate capacity addition in clean power. Sources said the power ministry is working on the proposed policy, which might be finalised soon.

Sources disclosed that at least 75 per cent of electricity generated in these parks would be supplied to units in the industrial park while the balance can go into the grid.

Solar park is a concentrated zone of development of solar power generation projects.

With electricity supply from solar parks expected to cost less than Rs 4.5 a unit, using solar power would make economic sense for industries that have to pay upwards of Rs 6 a unit for electricity drawn from the grid.

At least 25 solar park projects with minimum individual capacity of 500 mw are under various stages of implementation.

Meanwhile, the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) is considering developing another 25 solar parks.

If states okay this policy, they will have to provide additional land for solar parks to accommodate proposed industrial parks.

While experts have welcomed the idea, they have also flagged some logistical challenges that could crop up during implementation.

“Presently, if there is a solar park supplying power to nearby industry cluster, they still pay average transmission charges and losses. Total of such charges and losses can be as large as Rs 1.5/kWh, whereas, logically it has not utilised the grid much and therefore should be required to pay very low charges,” said Rajesh K Mediratta, director, Indian Energy Exchange.

“It is time big solar states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka use more distance and direction sensitive transmission charge mechanism. At the inter-state level, one such mechanism has benefited the market in terms of rationalising transmission payments,” Mediratta said.

India has envisaged adding 1 lakh mw solar power capacity by 2022 as part of its strategy to move the country towards consumption of clean energy. About 40,000 mw is to be added through rooftops plants.

But the pace of capacity addition is slow and the target looks difficult to achieve. That is the reason the government has sharpened focus on adding ground-mounted solar plants, especially in solar parks.

However, state power distribution companies (discoms) remain unwilling to buy solar power because of its higher cost.

According to industry sources, of the 2-3 million solar renewable energy certificates (RECs) that come for sale at IEX every month, hardly 25,000-50,000 are purchased, which shows low appetite for solar energy among discoms.

The MNRE implements solar parks through Solar Energy Corporation (SECI), which coordinates with states hosting project and disburses central fund.



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