India witnessed a surge in renewable energy projects announcements in the past few weeks. Several announcements have been made by states to develop solar parks and floating solar plants to meet country’s ambitious target of installing 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022.
Solar Parks of 600 Megawatts Capacity Announced in Punjab
The government of Punjab is expected to develop three solar parks of 200 megawatts capacity each in the Mohali and Rupnagar districts of the state. This announcement was made by the Minister Manish Tewari and he revealed that the deputy commissioners of the Mohali and Rupnagar districts have been asked to identify the land for the solar parks.
The Minister further added that he received the confirmation from the state government that the process will be taken up further after finalization of the land. The nodal agency of the state, i.e. Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), will chalk out the plan for the development of solar parks in discussion with Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The establishment of the parks is expected to attract private investment of over Rs 10,000 crore (US$1.3 billion).
Solar Parks of 602 Megawatts Capacity Announced in Maharashtra
Maharashtra state energy Minister Nitin Raut has announced that the state-owned Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco) has decided to build three solar parks of 602 megawatts in the state.
The solar parks will be developed in three stages under an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract on the land owned by Mahagenco.
Under the first stage, 187 megawatts of solar projects will be set up at Kaudgaon, Latur on the existing thermal power station land at Bhusawal, Koradi, Parli and Nashik and Sakri districts. In the second stage, 390 megawatts of solar projects will be developed at Washim, Yavatmal, and Chandrapur districts. In the third stage, the balance of 25 megawatts of solar will be developed at the Sakri district again.
The funds for the development of projects under stages one and two will be through a loan from the German agency KfW and equity infusion by the state government, whereas for stage three, a domestic loan of lower interest will be taken apart from the state government equity.
Solar parks of 2500 megawatts will be developed in the state of Maharashtra under Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Solar Park Scheme. The projects will be set up through a joint venture company (JVC) of NTPC and Mahagenco. Individual companies will be given the chance to develop the projects as per their share in JVC.
Floating Solar Projects of 500 Megawatts in Odisha
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the state-owned hydro giant NHPC with Green Energy Development Corporation of Odisha Limited (GEDCOL) to form a joint venture (JV) for developing floating solar energy projects in the state of Odisha. The projects will have an aggregate capacity of 500 megawatts.
Both the entities will collaborate to form a JV to explore, plan, and develop the floating solar projects across the various reservoirs of the state. The projects will be set up in a phased manner, with a minimum capacity of 50 megawatts. The projects will be implemented under the government’s Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Power Parks (UMREPPs) Scheme of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
The development of the floating solar plants would entail an investment of Rs. 2500 crore (US$ 332 million). The first phase of the project is expected to commence in March 2022.
According to a report published by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), Odisha has the potential to generate 177.55 gigawatts of solar energy from 877 square kilometers of cumulative reservoir area in the state.
Solar power parks will play a major role if India is to get close to its very ambitious target of 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2022. Policymakers recognized this fact early on. In 2015, the government approved 27 solar power parks to be built around the country. These parks would have an installed capacity of 18.4 gigawatts. By 2017, however, this target to doubled to 40 gigawatts. While announcing grand targets, the government has also taken measures to make investments in solar parks attractive. In 2019, the government announced several incentives for states and public sector companies to set up solar power parks.
According to a recent report, solar power park development in India offers a US$500-700 million investment opportunity. The government has so far approved 26.5 gigawatts of solar power parks, with some individual parks being as large as 5 gigawatts.