May 19, 2014: Electronics Bazaar continues its travels across the country to find out more about India’s solar power potential. In this issue, we cover the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to complete our review of the northern part of the country, which was started in the previous issue
By Samonway Duttagupta
Before we look at the solar power situation in the other half of north India, let’s take another look at the government’s current target of achieving a solar generating capacity of 100GW, which seems like a far-fetched dream right now. The lack of subsidies and policies to achieve this goal is being criticised by some. But if one studies the present situation closely, it is evident that the Centre is trying to bring things on to the fast track.
Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has asked all state governments to release their solar policies to accelerate the process of achieving the ambitious national solar energy target. Out of the northern states covered in this article—Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, every state has a solar policy except the national capital. From a broad perspective, there has been notable progress in India’s solar energy sector, but what needs to be looked at is which states are doing well and which ones need to buck up.
With an installed capacity of 322MW, Madhya Pradesh is now ranked third after Gujarat and Rajasthan in terms of solar power capacity in India. This has been confirmed by an analysis done by Bridge To India. The most interesting aspect is that 96 per cent of this capacity was added in the last two years, which is the highest growth among all states.
Some of the projects that have already made their mark include Welspun Energy’s 155MW solar power station in Neemuch district, built through the company’s subsidiary Welspun Solar Madhya Pradesh Pvt Ltd, and Fortum Finnsurya Energy’s 10MW plant in the Ujjain district (the first solar plant to be commissioned under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission Phase II Batch I), among others.
Madhya Pradesh’s recent solar drive has created a momentum that will be hard to contain in the future, and the state’s target of 2.654GW looks highly achievable. A giant step towards this was the recently announced 750MW solar power plant that is supposed to come up in the Rewa district. This will be the world’s largest solar power plant and will be set up by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Ltd at a projected cost of ` 40 billion. The project is slated to be inaugurated on August 15, 2016.
According to Bridge To India, the key drivers of this growth in Madhya Pradesh are the comparatively lower transmission costs and losses, the almost free allotment of land to solar power developers by the state government with the introduction of the ‘right to use’ concept for government land, and a simplified process of clearances, approvals and inspections for setting up solar power plants. In an interesting announcement, the minister of power Piyush Goyal said that if the state government provides land, Coal India Ltd would set up a 1.5GW solar power plant in Madhya Pradesh.
Picking up pace, steadily
According to reports published in July 2014, Uttar Pradesh aims to generate 500MW of solar power by 2017 under its solar policy, and has already invited companies to bid for contracts to build capacity for 300MW of solar energy. Towards the end of 2014, Bridge To India published a solar map of India which revealed that Uttar Pradesh has an already installed capacity of 156MW, which included 110MW under the state’s solar policy and just 5MW under the National Solar Mission.
Since then, solar power generation in Uttar Pradesh has been increasing as many other projects have been announced by the state. In November 2014, the state government announced that it would join hands with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Ltd to develop a 375M solar power park at an estimated cost of ` 30 billion on 7.5sqkm of land in Jalon district. This falls under a scheme by MNRE for developing 25 ultra mega solar power projects with a capacity of 500MW to 1000MW over a period of five years, starting in 2014.
The Uttar Pradesh state government has been also working at the micro level when it comes to solar power. Projects of 50MW each are expected to come up at Sonbhadra, Mirzapur and Allahabad; the UP Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam is set to develop a 50MW solar plant over 100 hectares of land in Jhansi with an investment of ` 4000 million; and 1KV solar plants and submersible solar water pumps providing RO purified water will be installed in all schools of the state. Besides this, the agricultural department has also handed over 48 solar pumping systems to farmers through a lottery system in Pilibhit at a subsidised price of 25 per cent of the total cost.
In its state budget for FY 2015-16, the UP government has provisioned over ` 100 billion for development projects and schemes pertaining to environment conservation. Out of this, a considerable sum of money has been allocated for solar related projects. A sum of ` 1260 million has been allocated for distributing 6000 subsidised solar PV pumps to small and marginal farmers so that they can save diesel/electricity during irrigation, ` 380 million has been earmarked for installing solar streetlights at public places in rural areas, ` 660 million has been earmarked for a 20MW grid-connected solar power project in Bundelkhand, and ` 340 million has been allocated for providing solar power packs for lights, fans and other domestic equipment to the poor in rural areas, among others.
Uttar Pradesh, along with Madhya Pradesh, is one of the fastest growing states when it comes to solar power. What needs to be seen is how much of this momentum is sustained and when the targets will be achieved.
A city with high potential
The national capital, Delhi, has a high potential when it comes to solar power. But the first question that comes to mind is the availability of land for solar power generation. Delhi certainly is constrained on this score, but the city has an increasing number of public and commercial buildings and all of them can be well utilised for setting up rooftop solar power plants. Even though the neighbouring state of Haryana has made rooftop solar energy units compulsory, Delhi still hasn’t done the same in spite of an ever increasing population and growing number of residential buildings. The main reason for this is the disputed roof rights in the city. As a solution to this problem, the state government is already setting an example by utilising the rooftop spaces of commercial buildings. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is looking to use the rooftop space of three sports complexes – Commonwealth Sports Village (near Akshardham temple) Siri Fort and Yamuna Sports Complex—in order to generate a solar capacity of 1MW. The Holy Family Hospital in Okhla, on the other hand, has become the first private building in the state to have a large solar rooftop system, generating 300kW of solar power.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has been active in generating solar power. It already generates 3000 units of solar power on a daily basis, which is enough to run three metro stations—Dwarka Sector 21, Pragati Maidan and Anand Vihar. DMRC generates a total of 750kW of solar power from four locations at the moment and is looking to increase its solar capacity in the times to come.
Even though Delhi is yet to have a solar policy of its own, there have been positive signs on this front in the recent past. Not too long ago, Delhi’s CM, Arvind Kejriwal met German ambassador Michael Steiner and members of the Bavarian State Parliamentary Committee led by Fiorian Hermann to seek their cooperation on a renewable energy project in the city. Considering the fact that Germany has been one of the leading countries in terms of rooftop solar power generation with a very strong people-centric policy in place, Delhi is expected to have a bright future in solar power generation under the guidance of teams from that country.
The power latent in rooftops
Uttarakhand also has a tremendous potential when it comes to rooftop solar installations. MNRE had a target of 7MW from just rooftop solar power projects in 2014-15. A recent analysis by Bridge To India has revealed that the state already has an installed capacity of 9.7MW just through rooftop solar projects, of which the major chunk has been shared by commercial and residential installations at 3.9MW from each segment, while the rest comes from industrial installations.
The Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA) has been partially responsible for this as it has been promoting rooftop solar projects in the state for quite some time now. Ujaas Energy Ltd, which is known for executing rooftop solar projects at the most economic rates (as claimed by a leading national daily) has recently won the bid to execute rooftop projects totalling a capacity of 5MW in the state. This bid was called by UREDA. Reports reveal that Vikalp Mundra, joint managing director, Ujaas Energy Ltd, had identified the fact that the state has a great potential to generate energy from rooftop solar projects as Uttarakhand has many industrial houses with large rooftop spaces.
Besides, Uttarakhand’s rooftop policy allows solar power generators to sell the excess power to the state utility at a price of ` 9.20/Kwh, which makes the proposition more attractive from the investor’s point of view.
Vast potential waiting to be tapped
Himachal Pradesh has a great ecosystem in place with vast tracts of land stretching across the mountains that have enough exposure to sunlight and hence a high rate of solar irradiation. Solar power prospects are great in Himachal Pradesh but the state government has been a little slow in implementing things, till now.
Talking about what’s already done by the state, there has been one major initiative in the recent past. The Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha has initiated a project to light up the whole building with a solar lighting system. The Himachal Pradesh Energy Development Agency (HIMRUJA) is undertaking this project.
There have been two recent announcements that can bring Himachal Pradesh to the fore in the near future. The Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), a joint venture of the Central government and the Himachal Pradesh state government, will install a 10MW project in the state soon. The state government is also planning to light up three non-electrified villages located deep inside the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area with solar power. Recently, the Union minister for power, Piyush Goyal, commented on this: “We are planning to install a solar energy plant of 50KV near the villages with an outlay of Rs 8 million.”
The recent pace of developments in the northern part of India rivals what is happening in south India. Though some critics say that a target of 100GW is hard to achieve, the current situation in the north and south of India suggests a different story. Electronics Bazaar will bring more clarity on this sector by covering the developments in the eastern and western regions of the country, too. Keep an eye on this section for the latest on that front.