Giving a turnaround to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)’s flagship solar power programme, the current government is set to double the target of the upcoming phase of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) to 3,000 Mw, the largest-ever tender for solar power in the country.
This would be the second UPA government’s pet mission that would be carried forward by the Narendra Modi government. Last week, the Cabinet had approved the second phase of the Unique Identification (UID) project. Piyush Goyal, the minister for coal, power and renewable energy, in his 100-day address, said the current targets of clean energy would be kept intact; their achievement period would be expedited to bridge gap in energy security and accessibility. The bidding for 3,000 Mw will take place in three tranches of 1,000 Mw each, and a single destination state at one time. Senior government officials close to the development said the project would be rolled out with Andhra Pradesh.
“We would then see which state expresses interest thereafter. For now, Telangana has also expressed intention to be part of this central mega programme. We could consider the viability and various other factors before selecting the state,” said the official.The solar power produced would be bundled with the unallocated thermal power in the ratio of 2:1, from earlier 1:1. The pooled power would be sold at the average rate to the state distribution utilities, with which the power purchase agreement is signed. NVVN (NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam limited), the power trading arm of NTPC, has been designated as the authority to execute the programme.
Confirming the development, Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary, ministry of new and renewable energy, said bundled power would bring down the cost of solar power. “Our aim is to achieve grid parity in solar by 2017 at least. Large capacity addition and pooling of comparatively costly solar power with conventional power would bring down the power price and increase overall power capacity in the country,” said Kapoor. NVVN officials said the average cost of bundled power would be around Rs 4-4.5 a unit. “We are also hoping that big names in the power sector would bid for huge capacities. The capacity being large, NVVN is also looking at an option of connectivity with the central transmission unit for alignment with the main grid,” said a senior NVVN official.
Second batch of bidding under the second phase of JNNSM targets to achieve 10,000 Mw of grid connected solar power by 2017. The cumulative target of the mission is to have 20,000 Mw of grid connected solar power by 2022. The current solar power capacity of the country is 2,600 Mw. Solar power price have come down to Rs 6.5-7 a unit — a 60 per cent decline in past three years. The last batch of bidding under JNNSM had fixed tariff of Rs 5.45 per unit supported with viability gap funding.