Rajasthan to witness a solar power revolution
The desert state is on course to become the biggest producer of solar energy in the world with top Indian companies making a beeline for setting up solar power plants.The die has been cast. The Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation Ltd (RRECL), the state nodal agency for promoting and developing nonconventional energy sources, has received 32 proposals to set up 900MW solar power plants. The rush for setting up solar plants is due to incentives offered by the state as well as central government. Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) would set up a 5MW solar power plant at Khinwsar in Nagaur district which would start production by December 2009. The company has signed the power purchase agreement with Jaipur Discom, the state-government-owned power distribution company, to sell power for a 10-year period. Par Solar Ltd, a Mumbai-based company is all set to establish another plant at Jodhpur. According to RRECL, CMD, Rajiv Swaroop, Indiabulls (45MW), Acme Tele Power (100MW), Videocon (5MW), AES Solar (10MW), GVK (100MW) and Essar Power (45MW) are some of the players who have registered with RRECL to set up plants at Jaisalmer, Nagaur, Barmer, Jodhpur and Bikaner districts. Swaroop said that the solar power producers would use the solar photovoltaic and solar thermal technology to produce power from solar energy. Rajasthan has been assured of an investment of Rs 18,000 crore in this environment-friendly power industry. “International experts feel that by the next century, solar energy would become the major source of producing power as all other fossil sources for producing power would either exhaust or deplete. Rajasthan would become the world’s biggest solar power house as it basks in an average of 320 days of sunshine in a year often receiving up to 6.4KW per hour of solar energy per square metre everyday which is the highest in the world. The solar plants would only capture this energy to produce electricity,” said Swaroop. But this solar power would be very expensive to produce because of high cost of technology. But the state and the Union government are encouraging the solar power production by offering incentives. RIL has already assured of getting Rs 15.78 per unit through the sale to the Discom. But this amount would not be borne by Discom alone. The Discom would pay in the first year Rs 3.67 paise per unit only and four paise per unit would be increased each year. The Discom, under the directive of the power regulatory commission, would further pay RIL 78 paise per unit more. Under a scheme of Centre’s Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, RIL would get Rs 11.33 per unit from this body as incentive for promoting non-conventional energy source. The amount of Rs 11.33 per unit incentive would decrease by four paise per unit each year. According to scientists earth receives 4,000 trillion kilowatt of electromagnetic radiation per hour from the sun which is 100 times the world’s energy consumption needs. Rajasthan Energy Development Agency (REDA) has planned to declare a Solar Energy Enterprise Zone (SEEZ) across a 15,000-km land in Rajasthan. The concept of SEEZ was drawn up on the lines of a zone in Nevada in the US. In the past 12 years, power companies like Amoco Enron, Energen Corp of Sri Lanka, Germany’s Schailac Bergermann and India’s Sun Source made bids to produce power from solar energy. They quoted a price of Rs 2.12 per unit, which would have marginally increased each year. It was estimated that even if 1% of the vast desert stretch was used to install solar collectors, 6,000MW hours of electricity could have been generated. But because of the dearth of proven technology and the high capital cost involved to produce solar energy in large quantity came as a hindrance. However, with the incentives offered on per unit basis there is sudden attraction for this project and the investors are ready to come to the state. In the past Sun Source had to abandon their project at Barmer due to lack of technology. Similarly, Amoco Enron and Schailac Bergermann also withdrew.
Labels: Rajasthan Solar Power