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US firm plans Rs 5.8 billion solar power project in Bihar

According to reports, a US-based agency, Schanti Partners, New York, has expressed its keen interest in investing Rs 580 crore for a solar energy project in Kaimur district of Bihar. Initially, a 10MW unit would be set up. The agency has already submitted its proposal to the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) and received approval from the Bihar State Investment Promotion Board as also no-objection letter from Bihar Renewable Energy Development Agency (BREDA).

The agency intends to enter into a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with BSEB. The proposed PPA rate is Rs 12.50/kWh.

This would be a part of the 50MW project to be set up in a phase-wise manner (10×5 MW). This foreign investment in Bihar will create jobs for local people and boost economic development. “With the setting up of this solar energy plant, Bihar will emerge as a leader in solar energy development among eastern states of India,” said an official.

The project would be executed by ‘Sparkle Solar Bihar I’, a fully-owned subsidiary of Schanti Partners LLC, incorporated in the state of Delaware, USA. The project will use photovoltaic technology. The equipment would be sourced from Sol Focus Inc., a US solar equipment manufacturer.

This technology is based on Concentrating Photovoltaic (CPV) system, which is PV technology with an optical system that focuses sunlight over a large area onto each cell. CPV technology is the latest in its field, said an expert.

The agency will acquire land privately, without seeking it from Bihar industrial land bank. As per the proposal, the project will lease land directly from the owners for a 30-year term, in lieu of annual lease payments to them.

The financing for the project has already been secured, with a letter of intent from the Export-Import Bank of the US. The letter of intent provides for approximately $30 million in financial support, depending upon various factors, including the extent of US-made solar power equipment.

Southeastern region of Bihar has one of the highest solar insolation rates in the world, with over 330 sunshine days in a year. Kaimur district has robust electricity infrastructure, with grid connectivity and nearby electrical substations. Power lines of 33kV and 132kV and electrical substations are already in place in the district.

Bihar government last year formulated a renewable energy policy, which approved 175MW of grid-connected solar power projects.

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