India Introduces Plan for 4 GW Solar Farm; On Path to 10 GW by 2017

India solar array

A 5 MW solar array in India. Courtesy IREDA. Late last month, India’s government announced its newest, ambitious plans to add more renewable energy, including the 4 gigawatt Sambhar Ultra-Mega Green Solar Power Project, which will be built in the Rajasthan province near Sambhar lake. The project is part of India’s larger goal to install 10 gigawatts of solar energy by 2017 and 20 gigawatts of solar by 2022.

 

The first 1 gigawatt phase of the project is expected to come online in 201 and is expected to be implemented through a joint venture (JV) company to be formed with equity from BHEL, Solar Energy Corp. of India, Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd., SJVN, SSL and REIL.  Based on the experience gained during implementation of the first phase of project, the remaining capacity would be implemented through a variety of models.

The project is likely the largest single solar project named thus far and India is expecting it to serve as a model for future projects “Being the first project of this scale anywhere in the world, it is expected to set a trend for large scale solar power development in the world,” said a spokesperson from the government.

"Government is considering a tariff of Rs 5.50 [about 9 U.S. cents] per unit of solar power generated for this project," Ashwini Kumar, Director of Solar Energy Corporation, told The Economic Times. The news site said it is the lowest tariff for solar power in India (it’s currently at about 7 Rs) and is expected to be the benchmark for the upcoming phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

"We would route a part of the finance through viability gap funding; the rest would be tied through power purchase agreements with power distribution companies," Kumar added.

On Oct. 3, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy introduced its new 10 gigawatts by 2017 goal. The country is already ahead of schedule. The Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, said that Phase I of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission has been very successful, wherein 1,685 MW of solar power was generated against the target of 1,100 MW.

As it moves into the next phase, the ministry said it has identified large tracks of land for solar development in Rajasthan, Kargil and Ladakh. “The main challenge was starting a transmission line in the areas of Kargil and Ladakh so that power could be evacuated to the other parts of the country.”

One interesting aspect of the program is that the country could use mobile towers to produce wind and solar energy where it’s needed, which would be beneficial considering the government has already increased the amount of solar it's using.

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