India’s largest solar power project will be commissioned in a fortnight. Moser Baer’s 30-MW project in Patan in Gujarat is likely to be commissioned by the end of this month or in the following week. The twin solar projects at Patan of 15 MW each have entailed an investment of around R450 crore.
“The combined capacity of our projects in Patan makes it by far the largest solar project. Many projects with similar size and slightly larger ones are coming up, but they make take time,” KN Subramanium, CEO, Moser Baer Solar Systems .
“The Photovoltaic project using thin film technology is expected to give better yield. This requires 7-8 acres for generating one megawatt depending on technology of thin film and land profile available at a specific site,” he said. According to him, the Patan project will remain the largest in solar sector in the country at least till the end of this year.
Recently, major electricity distribution company Torrent Power Ltd, entered the solar sector and is building a 50 MW project in Gujarat.
If all goes according to plan, India’s solar power capacity will grow six-fold to touch 300 MW by the end of this year, even as several enthusiastic states are commissioning solar power plants. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra are among states where solar projects are set to be commissi
oned in the latter half of 2011.
NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), the nodal agency to purchase solar power from independent producers, had last October signed MoUs with 16 developers to set up 84 MW capacity solar projects under the migration scheme to Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).
This January, it signed MoUs with another 30 developers to set up 620 MW capacity solar projects under the first batch of the phase 1 of JNNSM. Besides this, states such as Gujarat and Karnataka are pursuing solar projects on their own.
“There could be approximately 200-300 MW of solar capacity installed, but there are no guarantees. It all depends on whethera companies can get financing and execute,” said Ameet Shah, co-chairman, Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd.
Wind power has added 2,000 MW to the National Grid, but solar power has added a measly 40MW till now. The Centre expects 250MW to be added in the current year.
Major business houses such as Mahindra, Videocon and MoserBaer have already entered the solar sector. Shah felt there will be half a dozen companies with 50-100 MW capacity by the end of 2012. The Centre aims to build 1,000 MW solar power capacity by 2013 while; 22,000 MW is the target for 2022 under JNNSM.
“India’s solar market is still in a nascent stage with both national and state policies only recently beginning to take shape,” said Raj Prabhu, managing partner, Mercom Capital Group, a clean energy consulting firm.
“The second and third quarters of 2011 will be significant as financial and project deadlines become due,” he said.
In order to promote generation of power from Solar Energy, the State Government hereby makes the Rajasthan Solar Energy Policy, 2011 as attached.
The state government of Gujarat will buy power from the plant under a 25-year power purchase agreement, the New Delhi– based company said in an e-mailed statement. The International Finance Corp., the private-sector financing arm of the World Bank, is an investor in the project.
Other investors include the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp. and two venture-capital firms — Helion Advisors, based in Gurgaon near New Delhi, and Menlo Park, California-based Foundation Capital, Azure said.
Bangalore-based infrastructure company GMR Infrastructure is close to raising around Rs 400 crore of debt to finance its upcoming solar project in Gujarat. Sources in the know said that the company is in talks with IDBI Bank to close the deal in the near future.
Earlier, the infrastructure firm received approval from the Gujarat government to set up a 25 Mw solar power project in the state, using photovoltaic technology for this project which will cost around Rs 500 crore. In addition to kickstarting its presence in this sector in Gujarat, GMR is also in talks with the Rajasthan government for another project. “Rajastan has come up with an encouraging solar power policy and we will bid for the new projects in the state, “ a top company official said.
Presently, GMR has three completed energy projects namely barge-mounted power plant at Kakinada, 200 Mw power plant in Chennai and Vemagiri plant in Andhra Pradesh. Projects of GMR Infra, which are under various phases of their implementation, are GMR Orissa power project, Talong power project, Bajoli project, Chhattisgarh project, Upper Karnali hydro-power project, Upper Marsyangadi project among others.
The company has a power generation capacity of 808 Mw by the end of December, 2010, and has 11 projects with a total capacity of 8,448 Mw in its portfolio. Of the projects, 4,138 Mw is under construction and 4,130 Mw is under development.
As per company officials, it is expected to add another 1,800 Mw of power in the present financial year to its present capacity. They also said that GMR was aggressively looking at increasing its solar power capacity in the future.
The energy vertical of the company has posted a marginal six per cent rise in its net profit to Rs 249 crore in FY11. However, its net declined around 70 per cent to Rs 37 crore during fourth quarter owing to deferred tax liability of around Rs 74 crore that had been accounted in this period.
GMR posted a loss of Rs 929.64 crore in the last financial year as compared with a profit of Rs 158.4 crore in the corresponding period previous year.
Revenue rose by 26 per cent to Rs 5,773.8 crore during this period. Meantime, the company has posted a 14 per cent increase in its operating profit to Rs 1,555.5 crore by end of March, 2011.
|The Energy and Wetland Research Group (EWRG), Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have jointly mapped the solar hotspots of the country.|
|Investment in solar power generation will now be less risky and eco-friendly as scientists from IISc have come out with priority regions to deploy solar energy devices across the country.
“By mapping the solar hotspots, we hope to facilitate commercial exploitation of energy with favourable techno-economic prospects and organisational infrastructure support to augment solar power generation in the country,” said Dr T V Ramachandra, senior scientist, EWRG, CES, IISc.
The detailed, three-month-long study provides access to solar potentiality by documenting the solar insolation, the much required parameter to generate solar energy. Trans-gangetic and Gujarat plains are among regions deemed to hold high potential.
The solar hotspots, found based on the exploitable potential using high resolution global isolation data from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has found that the country’s favourable geographical location has made it one of the best locations for solar energy. However, the nation suffers in installation of solar applications with just 66 megawatt peak (mwp). This includes 12.28 mwp grid-connected solar power and 2.92 mwp off-grid solar power plants (SPP).
Though the national solar mission (NSM) launched in January 2010 has boosted the solar power scenario in the country, investment has suffered due to lack of details on the energy potential.
The researchers had collected data for more than 900 grids covering the entire topography of India and found that the nation has a vast potential for solar power generation – about 58 per cent of total land area (1.89 million km sq). “It receives an annual average global insolation above 5 kWh per metre sq per day (m sq),” Ramachandra said.
The study, conducted along with two more researchers, Rishabh Jain and Gautham Krishnadas, has also documented the data of insolation for every month.
According to the monthwise data findings, during January, major parts of the southern peninsula receive insolation above 4.5 kWh per metre sq per day, while western coastal plains and ghats region receive 5.5 kWh per m sq and western Himalayas and North India receive the minimum of 2.5 kWh m sq.
During February, a major expanse of the Indian landscape receives above 5 kWh per m sq, while states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern region receive an insolation in the range of 3-4 kWh m per sq.
During April and May, more than 90 per cent of the country receives minimum insolation up to 5 kWh m sq which rises up to 7.5 kWh m sq, while the eastern Himalayas receive 4.7 kWh m per sq.
During the monsoon, the global insolation drops drastically in the south (with the exception of Tamil Nadu) and north-eastern regions to about 3.9 kWh m sq and it continues until September.
“The country receives annual sunshine of 2,600- 3,200 hours. Direct insolation with a minimum threshold value of 1,800 kWh m sq per year or 5 kWh m sq per day is reccomended to achieve levelised electricity costs (LEC),” the report said.
CSP and barren land
Suggesting that the concentrated solar power (CSP) – the technology that use lenses or mirrors to concentrate a large area of sunlight – is best suited for arid and semi arid regions, Ramachandra said that the transgangetic, western dry, plateau and Gujarat plains were best suited for this purpose.
The study said 4.89 million ha of barren and uncultivable land is available in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Even a small fraction of this land can support 1,222 MW capacity.
Despite being densely populated several states have barren and dry land with great power generation potential. Rajasthan has the most barren land with 2,595 ha, followed by Gujarat with 2,295 ha and Andhra Pradesh (2,056 ha). Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have 1,718 ha, 1,351 ha and 788 ha respectively.