According to reports, five central public sector undertakings (CPSUs) intend to set up a solar power project with a total capacity of 4,000 mega watts. BHEL, PowerGrid Corporation, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, Solar Energy Corporation, and Hindustan Salts will set up the project on land belonging to Hindustan Salt at Sambhar in Rajasthan.
The operation and management contract for this project, to be commissioned in three years, is to be awarded to another CPSU, Rajasthan Electronics and Instruments.
“The effort is to set up 1,000 mw capacity initially with an investment of Rs 7,500 crore. Then additional capacity of 3,000 mw will be developed in six phases of 500 mw each,” a person familiar with the development told Business Line, adding that the modalities were being worked out.
The project will be a joint initiative of the Heavy Industries Ministry and the Ministry of New and Renewal Energy and approval to set up a special purpose vehicle will be sought from the Union Cabinet. A senior Government official said this project would benefit the companies concerned in many ways, apart from financial gain on the basis of equity participation. For example, Hindustan Salt has a vast area of land in Rajasthan. Over 20,000 acres can now be used for the project, which will give the company additional financial benefits, the official added.
Similarly, power generation equipment manufacturer BHEL, which hopes to expand its manufacturing capacity for photovoltaic module and cells, will also benefit from a project of such magnitude. Also, the National Action Plan on Climate Change has targeted 15 per cent of electricity generation by renewables (biomass, small hydro power and wind power apart from solar power) by 2020.
The official said two key resources were required for a solar power project. One, lots of sunlight and, two, huge land area, and Rajasthan has both.
According to the Bureau of Investment Promotion of Rajasthan, the State is uniquely placed to tap sunlight with 300-330 clear sunny days and average daily solar incidence of 5-7 kilowatt-hours per square metre per day (kWh/m2).
The total desert area in the State is over two lakh sq. km. Also, 60 per cent of the land in the State is arid and semi-arid. The Government aims to augment solar power capacity to 20,000 MW by 2022 from the current capacity of over 1,600 MW.