SUBJECT :Renewable Energy 

Solar power is on the rise in Punjab. Known for heavily relying on thermal generation, the state now produces 57 MW of solar photovoltaic power. 

This figure is likely to jump manifold next month with the commissioning of 19 new projects that will generate 215 MW of solar power. 

“The target is 4120 MW generation by 2020,” says Punjab’s Non-Conventional Energy Minister Bikram Singh Majithia. The state government’s nodal authority for solar power generation, Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), has received a thumping response from private players to its bids for setting up new solar projects. The state government wants to produce 250 MW of solar power in its second phase of renewable energy generation. It has, however, received proposals that will help in producing 378 MW of solar power. Of these, projects worth 337 MW have been found to be viable, said sources.

Majithia says after commissioning of these projects, Punjab will be amongst handful of states that will follow the new legislation of the Union Government that focuses on generating at least 10% of power in states from renewable energy sources.

“We have received proposals worth Rs 2,000 crore. Many other companies have evinced interest in setting up projects in Punjab,” he says.

Vijay Singh, general manager, Azure Power, that has set up three units of solar power plant, having a generation capacity of 34 MW, says companies are enthused by the support being received from the government. 

“Our projects were commissioned in October last year. It’s been a smooth run for us and we are planning to increase our generation capacity to 500 MW with new projects in the coming years,” he said. 

The biggest hurdle being faced by solar power companies in Punjab is getting land for the project.  “The cost of the land is high and it is difficult to get a contiguous piece of land for a project. So the companies have decided to take land on lease for 30 years from farmers. We are giving a higher lease amount to farmers, with an annual appreciation of almost five per cent, says Luv Chabbra,  director (corporate affairs), Punj Lloyd. 

The company is setting up 20 MW solar power project in Mansa, which is expected to be commissioned by March. 

The companies generating power have a purchase agreement with Punjab State Power Corporation Limited, which buys solar power at rates varying between Rs 7.20 and Rs 8.75 per unit.    

In 2013, Punjab had awarded projects with 250 MW capacity to 26 developers across the state. These projects have either been commissioned before time or likely to be commissioned by March this year.

The solar power projects were awarded in two categories — projects which have a capacity of 1 to 4  MW and others between 5 and 30 MW. 

Among the companies which have been awarded the projects are Lanco Solar Energy, Punj Lloyd Infrastructure, Moser Baer Clean Energy, Essel Infra Projects, Welspun Solar Punjab and Azure Urja.

Source: The Tribune