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Govt plans 'Rooftop' solar power policy

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai/ Ahmedabad 

After dedicating to the nation 600 megawatts (Mw) of solar power projects in different parts of Gujarat, state chief minister on Thursday hinted to come out with a rooftop solar power plant policy to encourage people to produce their own electricity and earn by selling the surplus power to the state grid.

At a function to mark the opening of the at village Charanka of Patan district on Thursday, Modi mentioned that the said policy would make the people self-reliant in power generation. This would also encourage them to lease out their roof tops for solar power generation, which would yield additional income for the betterment of their life.

The Gujarat government had initiated a 5 Mw rooftop programme in the state capital, Gandhinagar. The project is now being extended to five more cities and towns in the state. "When we announced the state’s solar energy policy in 2009, our aim was to facilitate large scale generation, as larger generation brings down the cost to an affordable level. Today, you can see the rate has come down from Rs 15 per unit to around Rs 8.50 per unit. I am hopeful that one day cost of solar power generation will come down to the level of gas- or coal-based power generation," Modi stated at the function.

With the installed capacity of 600 Mw of solar power generation, Gujarat has become world's largest solar power field.

According to Modi, the solar energy sector is expected to create about 30,000 new jobs in the state over a period of time.

It is worthwhile to mention that the Solar Park at Charanka is and district Banaskantha has been identified for Phase II of the project.

Set up under the first phase of series, the solar park at Charanka is spread over an area of 2,669 acres and has a total operational capacity of 214 Mw. It is envisaged that the overall capacity of the Solar Park at Charanka, when it expands to 5,000 acres, would be 500 Mw, making it the largest solar farm in Asia.

The project is funded by Government of Gujarat through its nodal agency Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL), and (ADB). ADB has extended US $ 100 million loan for power evacuation.

Modi further mentioned that Gujarat has witnessed sharp growth in the energy sector over the past one decade. In 2001 the total installed power generation capacity in Gujarat was 7,000 Mw, which will go up to about 18,000 Mw by the end of 2012, he mentioned.

"A decade back, energy scenario was not good in the state and the state-owned power utilities were making loss to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore. Today, the same utilities are registering profit of about Rs 500 crore. Now solar power generation through parks like this is going to give new dimension to the sector and Gujarat will lead the nation on this front too," Saurbh Patel, minister of state for energy and petrochemicals, government of Gujarat.

The inaugural function of the Charanka Solar Park was held as a part of the ‘Indian Solar Summit 2012’, where leading business leaders and political personalities remained present.

First Published: Fri, April 20 2012. 00:22 IST