Rajasthan to get worlds largest solar power plant for Rs 30k cr

Written by Subhash Narayan | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 13 2013, 09:08am hrs
After conventional ultra mega thermal power projects, India is set to launch similar projects in the non-conventional energy space. The countrys first ultra mega solar power project is being planned near Sambhar lake in Rajasthan. Transmission utility Power Grid will develop the project, with estimated investment of R30,000 crore in partnership with BHEL, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, Hindustan Salt and Solar Energy Corporation, sources close to the development told FE.

The project, billed as the largest single-location solar project in the world, is being developed to fast-track growth of green energy. Apart from being environment-friendly, solar projects have become commercially viable with tariff under such projects coming close to the commercial power rates at R6.5-7 per unit.

The land will come from over 20,000 acres in possession of Hindustan Salt near the Sambhar lake, which is Indias largest saline lake and source of most of Rajasthans salt. Most of this land is unused and uninhabitable and considered ideal for solar projects as the area also gets good intensity sunlight throughout the year.

We have picked up 16% equity in the ultra mega solar project as part of the strategy to diversify into power generation on renewable energy side. The first phase of 1,000 MW of the project should be commissioned over next one year or so with an investment of about R7,500 crore, said a top official of Power Grid Corporation asking not to be named.

The consortium of five PSUs will start work on the remaining 3,000 MW in six phases of 500 MW each. At full capacity, the project cost would be close to R30,000 crore.

Work on the project is slated to start soon after getting Cabinet approval for the special purpose vehicle model we propose for the ultra mega solar project. Hindustan Salt has already provided 5,500 acre of its wasteland at Sambhar lake for first phase of the project, the official added.

Apart from the five partners, the consortium would also be roping in other investors in the project as equity partners. This will help in easing financing pressure for capital intensive projects. Roughly 1 MW of solar project requires R7.5-8 crore of investment and about 4.4.5 acre of land.

Power produced would be transmitted to the grid by Power Grid under its green corridor project entailing an investment about R14,000 crore in the 12th Plan period. The company is set to bag orders for developing inter-state lines under the project.

Sources said that success of Rajasthans ultra mega solar project would be replicated by the renewable energy ministry by identifying large tracts of land in barren and uninhabitated regions where later investors would be asked to put in their bids. Power Grid has already offered to be an active player in this initiative. It has formulated a Desert Power 2015 plan and has told the ministry to offer 2-3% of wasteland from about 2 lakh 40,000 sq km of land available for such developments in Thar, Kutch and Spiti regions. This itself has potential to generate 1 lakh MW of solar power over next few years.

Out of countrys total power generation capacity of over 2,26,000 MW, the share of green energy sources is a mere 27,000 MW though potential exists to generate up to 1,72,000 MW.