The desert state of Rajasthan, which has a high level of solar radiation and large tracts of relatively flat and undeveloped land, is set to commission 355 MW of solar power plants by April as part of its efforts to generate 25,000 MW of the renewable energy in the coming years, a minister said.
It will, however, take another 18 to 24 months before the transmission lines are laid.
“As of today we hope to commission 355 MW of solar power projects by April. Another five projects of 50 MW are presently in the bidding process and are expected to be commissioned by September,” Minister of State for Energy Pushpendra Singh told IANS in an interview.
Each MW of solar power entails an investment of Rs.8 crore ($1.2 million).
Besides, the state government recently entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Sun Edison India and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services for establishing a solar park with a generation capacity of 5,000 MW. (The financial aspects of this are still being worked out.)
“Thanks to the new policy, Rajasthan is poised to establish itself as a leader in solar power generation and a pioneer in providing energy security and sustainable growth to India,” Pushpendra Singh said, adding: “We are getting good response from corporate houses after we declared an investor friendly solar power policy.”
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has said of the new policy announced last October: “We have already created a favourable atmosphere and the results are there for everybody to see. Renowned multinationals are investing in Rajasthan and we are progressing towards achieving the target of generating 25,000 MW of solar energy.”
The new policy has received “overwhelming” response from private players for establishing solar power plants and solar parks, state government officials said.
Companies like ACME, Azure, Green Today, Sun Edison, Solar Direct, Laxmi Diamond and Welspun among others have begun an exercise to set up solar power projects in the state.
The new policy aims to create a conducive environment for the investors in the state and ensure power supply to urban and rural areas along with remote/less populated areas where there is no power supply.
The policy offers a win-win situation for farmers as it has amended the Rajasthan Tenancy Act and the Rajasthan Land Revenue Act to give them rights to set up solar power plants on their agricultural holdings or to sub-let it for this purpose.
Besides, there will be no requirement of land conversion for setting up solar power plants.
“The provision of allowing farmers to set up solar power plants on their holdings or to sub-let it will ensure a regular source of income. It will also improve the economic status of the farmers,” Pushpendra Singh said.
The policy also permits the allotment of government land at the district level committee (DLC) rate, which is much lower than the market rate, to solar power producers.
Another highlight of the policy is fast-tracking the approval of mega projects of 500 MW or more by placing them directly before an empowered committee headed by the chief secretary.