Scheme for large-scale solar projects gets presidential sanction

Rs 4,050 crore approved for solar parks and ultra mega power projects

 
By Aruna Kumarankandath
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

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The President of India has sanctioned the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects in the country. The scheme envisages at least 25 solar parks, each with a minimum capacity of 500 MW between 2014 and 2019. The estimated financial support for the scheme—Rs 4,050 crore—was also approved (see table for break-up).

Estimated cost to be incurred by government

(i) Cost of 20,000 MW @ Rs 20 lakh/MW 4,000.00
(ii) 1% fund handling fee for SECI on above amount 40.00
(iii) Cost of DPR preparation etc. for 25 Solar Parks @ Rs. 25 Lakh each park 6.25
(iv) Training, consultancy & other related Expenditure (to be incurred by MNRE, SECI, implementing agency) 3.75
  Total 4,050.00

The draft scheme of the same was introduced in September. Already, 12 states have shown interest in development of 25 solar parks. Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary, Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), told the Press Trust of India, “Mizoram could add its name to the list of interested states that have already agreed to host a solar park. We already have two solar parks, one each in Gujarat and Rajasthan, as models for the parks to be constructed.” The total capacity, as per interest, of these 25 parks would be around 22.1 giga-watt (GW). 

Apart from solar parks, ultra mega solar power projects (UMSPPs) are also encouraged in the scheme. A UMSPP is a single power project with capacity of over 500 MW. These projects may be set up in some of these solar parks. In some cases, the full park may be one UMSPP.

MNRE wanted to set up four UMSPPs of 4,000 MW using solar photovoltaic (PV) technology near Sambhar lake in Rajasthan, Kargil and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat. The plant in Rajasthan was opposed by the state government itself (see ‘Solar threat to Sambhar’). In January 2014, the state chief minister, Vasundhara Raje, wrote to the then Union heavy industries minister, Praful Patel, expressing her reservations about the project on the largest inland saline wetland in Asia.

The scheme has already shown promise, but apart from the obvious impediments of land, environmental and social impacts should be evaluated before these projects are started. These parks and projects should ensure that the local people have the first right of power. Anindya Parira of MNRE claims it is too early to comment on the impact studies. “It would be done along with the preparation of detailed project report (DPR) but we are hoping for the projects and solar park to be operational within the next 5 years.”
 

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