According to reports, move over Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh is gearing up to become the largest producer of solar power in the country. In a first-of-its kind initiative, the UP government is planning to put to use its vast canal network, spanning over 74,000 km, to produce solar power.
To begin with, the government plans to set up five pilot canal solar projects at locations across the state. Each of these projects will see the installation of solar panels over the canals, which would produce 10 mw energy each.
Speaking to FE, an official said the project is part of the new solar policy that is in the final drafting stage and would be sent to the state cabinet soon. “The concept is to make use of the immense potential for solar energy in the state, especially by making use of the 74,000 km of canals that run across the state.”
“By making use of the canals, we will not only be replacing the need for acquiring land, which is anyway a disputed issue these days, but we would also prevent the loss of water from the canals through evaporation. The concept has already been tested in Gujarat.
We can take it forward by making use of the world’s largest canal system,” he said, adding that the thumb rule of solar energy is that an average 1 km-1.5-km-long stretch of a 10-15 km-wide canal can produce 1-mw of power.
“The central government has already given the state R200 crore for the pilot project and we have also identified the areas where the projects are to come up based on the fact that they should be close to sub-stations which can help evacuate the power,” said the official.
The five areas where the pilot projects have been planned are Jhansi, Ghaziabad, Etawah, Ballia and Lucknow.
“This is a very ambitious project for us as it will be the largest innovative initiative in solar power in the world. Once the state government is able to script the success story in these pilot projects, it will then invite the private sector to invest in solar power in a big way,” he added.
“The economic development of UP has been seriously hampered due to a lack of inadequate availability of power. Since conventional sources of power are fast depleting, combined with the fact that they pose a threat to the environment, the state government has taken it as a challenge to not only meet the ever growing demand for power but also to progressively increase the share of renewable sources in the power-mix so as to achieve overall energy security,” said another official, closely working on the state government’s solar policy.
The draft solar policy aims at generating 1,000 MW solar power in the state by 2017 in phases.
In a bid to attract entrepreneurs to invest in solar power, the draft policy also promises timely payment of bills for the power that will be purchased from them.