AK RAMDAS | 11/03/2014 02:16 PM | Moneylife.com
What India truly needs is the setting up of small and medium size solar panel manufacturers who can offer turn-key jobs to individual houses
The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is the nodal agency established by the union government for implementing solar projects in the country. SECI has tied up with Japan International Cooperation Agency for raising funds for the initial infrastructure development and plans to provide loans to developers at low rate of interest that could vary between 4% and 5%.
SECI plans to set up a 1,000 MW solar park in Mehboobnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, in the Telengana region. This will be located on a 5,000 acre area, according to Rajendra Nimje, managing director of SECI. As per present plans, the entire capacity will come up in the next 18 to 24 months, and the Collector of Mehboobnagar has agreed to make available necessary infrastucture, at an estimated outlay of Rs600 crore. To facilitate the work, Solar Energy has entered into an agreement with Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation for facilitation of land.
Developers will be chosen through competitive bidding while the basic infrastructure is made ready in four to six months. It is expected that most solar units in the park will be in 10 MW capacity some are expected to be larger.
SECI has other ambitious plans too. One of the largest solar parks in the world will be set up with a 4,000 MW capacity in Rajasthan, while three others are planned in Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, besides a second one in Andhra Pradesh. It is estimated that the unit rate for sale could be around Rs5.50 which compares with the rate for power being sold in most states to the end consumer.
Nimje expects that SECI would be able to achieve the target of 10,000 MW of solar power by 2017. Karnataka, its neighbour, has similar solar energy plans and expect to announce its solar energy policy soon. Karnataka minister for power, DK Shivkumar stated that the government would encourage people to take up roof top solar energy to be tapped for their own family use and make available the excess to the State grid, for which a good price would be paid by the government.
In fact, it is proposed that the government would make it mandatory and ask all new building owners to have provisions for providing solar energy on the roof top. The proposed policy would be placed before the Cabinet soon. In the meantime, due to increasing power needs, state government plans to obtain 400 MW of power from Damodar Valley Corporation
He has also directed all electricity companies to ensure rural areas and homes get three-phase supply at least seven hours a day, particularly farmers should not suffer.
The question of obtaining permanent power supply through the natural solar source needs to be made mandatory all over the country. What we truly need is the setting up of small and medium size solar panel manufacturers who can offer turn-key jobs to individual houses. Such a move will reduce the heavy burden on the power generators who have to import fuel at great cost.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
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