According to reports, the contribution of solar power to the state power grid is set to jump from the current 1MW to 140MW by March 2016. The stronger solar ray exposure in areas of north Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha is to be exploited in order to set up solar panels for power generation.
The state’s plan is to add around 30MW every year generated from solar power. The proposal is being drafted by the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd (Mahagenco). After it gets a cabinet nod, the proposal will be submitted before the ministry of new and renewable energy for a final decision.
Based on a radiation report of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), solar radiation of the areas chosen is almost equal to the solar radiation in Rajasthan.
Speaking to TOI, a senior official of the Mahagenco said, “The hot and dry conditions of these regions are similar to that of Rajasthan and Gujarat, known for their high solar radiation. The state has decided to tap the potential and set up high capacity solar power plants. The total expenditure of the project would be around Rs 5,000 crore. The government is also planning to attract foreign investment for this project.” He did not think there would be any obstacles in getting the project approved by the Centre.
Dhule and Jalgaon from north Maharashtra, Osmanabad and Aurangabad from Marathwada and Chandrapur and Wardha districts of Vidarbha have the highest exposure to solar rays. The other districts have slightly lower exposure, but those will be part of solar project as well, the official said.
A 150MW power project, already being set up by Mahagenco in Dhule has received financial assistance of 250 million Euro (Rs 1,700 crore) from a German government owned bank, KFW. Since it has received funding already, the Dhule project will not be considered in the 700MW solar-based power generation project of the state. Along with technical expertise from IIT-Powai (Mumbai), Mahagenco has appointed a couple of international firms for technology and accounts-related consultancy to help with the project.
Jeevanprakash Kulkarni, scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said, “India, being a tropical country has good exposure of sunrays. Except for the coastal areas, there is bright and clear weather conditions for 250 days a year. There is potential in the state for solar power generation.”
Sources at Mahagenco said, “Of the total installed power generation capacity in a solar plant, 15 to 20 per cent of the total heat is converted into power. Such large-scale power generation will enable the generating company to link it to the power grid.”
The current status of solar-based power generation is private and on a very small-scale. The company has set up its first high capacity solar power plant in the premises of its Chandrapur based thermal power plant. The 1MW power plant is connected to the grid and by December this year, solar-based power generation will be 10MW from different sources including a couple of private players as well. This 10MW is not part of the draft that is being proposed by the state. .
The current power generation of the state ranges from 13,000MW to 14,000MW with power deficit of some 3,000MW.