Response to the National Solar Mission, which aims at generating 20,000 Mw of solar power in the country over the next decade, has been good so far.
In less than a year after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the scheme, 300 bids for solar photovoltaic (PV) plants and 44 for solar thermal projects were received by NTPC Vidyut Vyapaar Nigam (NVVN), a nodal agency for the sale and purchase of grid-connected solar power.
The eligible bids offered a range of discounts and the average rate for selected plants would be Rs 12.16 per unit for solar PV and Rs 11.48 per unit for solar thermal plants. NVVN had invited bids for 620-Mw capacity comprising 470 Mw of solar thermal and 150 Mw of solar PV plants.
Addressing the Intersolar India conference here, I&B Secretary Deepak Gupta said the target for grid-connected plants for the first phase of the solar mission up to March 2013 was 1,100 Mw, including 100 Mw of roof-top and small tail-end solar plants. The capacity of 1,000 Mw has been divided equally between solar PV and solar thermal projects.
About 184 Mw of grid connected plants have already been selected by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IRESA) and 84-Mw by NVVN under migration schemes. These are mostly solar PV and have to be commissioned within a year.
“Some ask will the project be set up? I leave it to those who bid to answer these doubts. Because we have great penalties for failure. Everyone has to work to find ways to reduce cost. I am hoping that NVVN will issue letters of intent anyday. The developers will have a month to sign the power purchase agreement,” Gupta said, adding that the developers would have to follow the timeline strictly.
According to him, the ministry was trying to involve private players in installing solar power systems to provide electricity by setting up micro grid in the villages. Many pilot projects have been initiated under which the ministry has received help from the government of Norway. “We want to do many more. We are looking for foundations and corporate social responsibility funds to join hands with us,” he noted.
Gupta said the ministry wanted to use solar PV systems to replace diesel in industry and telecom tower — two major areas where solar PV systems can be installed.
These sectors should do their bit for the country’s environment and energy security, he added.