According to reports, it was with much fanfare that the 3 MW solar plant in Kolar was inaugurated in 2010 at an approximate cost of Rs 60 crore. The project was supposed to benefit some 1,000 farmers in the area.
Similar 3 MW plants were launched in Raichur and Belgaum as well. All this was hailed as a breakthrough that would put Karnataka onto the path of being a leader in solar energy. This promising start has not been sustained.
The aim of the solar projects in these three districts was to provide farmers with reliable power during the day. But the farmers have not really benefited from the solar plants. According to sources in the energy department, there is no coordination between the Karnataka Power Corporation and the local power distributors.
Power was to be directly supplied to the farmers and it was meant to benefit at least 3,000 farmers. But in fact the solar plants do not have the capability to supply solar power directly to the farmers. Moreover, because of the poor coordination, almost 40 per cent of the power generated is wasted.
An official also revealed that since there is no grid coordination, the solar power goes in the same line along with the other lines, and is supplied to towns and villages. In short, the real purpose of the project is not met at all.
In 2009, there was a proposal for setting up solar rooftop panels for 10,000 households in the city of Bengaluru to make them self-reliant in power. That project never went beyond the drawing board.
The government is showing interest in revisiting the project. The Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) wants IT companies with ample space to use their rooftops and park area for solar projects.
Says KREDL MD, G.V. Balram: “There are several IT companies that can use the rooftop solar and that will benefit them. But we have to convince them,” said Balram.