According to reports, state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCIL) has identified a potential of 300,000 mw solar and wind potential in the hot and cold deserts of Rajasthan, Himachal, J&K and Gujarat that can be developed by 2050 under its Desert Power Plan. The company has already started working on the project along with five other PSUs with expected funding requirement of Rs 4.5 lakh crore in the next 36 years.
IS Jha, director — projects, PGCIL, told FC that the companies — PGCIL, BHEL, Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), Sambhar Salt (SSL), Rajasthan Electronics & Instrumentation (REIL) and Solar Energy Corporation of India — would bring in the respective skills and equally share the equity in the 4,000 mw solar project that has started in Sambhar, Rajasthan. It would also have a viability gap funding (VGF) and subsidy component to it.
On an investment of Rs 7,000 crore for 1,000 mw plant, there would be a subsidy of Rs 2,000 crore and a VGF of around Rs 2,000 crore. The remainder would be shared equally by the companies with the debt comprising around 70 per cent of the cost and equity the remaining 30 per cent, said Jha.
“All companies are financially sound and there is not really going to be any funding related issues. Besides companies like Sambhar Salt have huge land resource that would save us from acquisition related troubles and can be used initially for setting up the PV panels,” the official added.
“Such huge demand cannot be met by conventional form of energy alone. The Indian Desert Power Plan is based on the lines of DESERTEC –EUMENA project that involves European Union and the African MENA region where 100,000 mw solar power would be generated and then transmitted to Europe through high tech transmission lines by 2050,” said the official.
PGCIL has identified around 1.45 lakh square kilometer of wasteland out of which around 10 per cent or 14,500 sq km can be used to generate solar power in the areas of Thar desert, Rann of Kutch, Laddakh and Lahul Spiti.
The total potential of solar power generation from the area stands at around 290 gw (290,000 mw) while wind would be another 30 gw or (30,000 mw) for optimum utilisation of the land.
The company has evaluated long term demand for year 2050 based on two scenarios an optimistic scenario where demand growth of 6 per cent CAGR has been assumed which projects the demand to more than 1,700 gw by 2050, almost 13 times of present demand. Second, the moderate view where reduced elasticity of demand and transitioning from developing to developed economy would bring the growth down by 3.5 per cent by the 15th plan period from the present plan level taking the total installed capacity to estimated 1,388 gw against the demand requirement of about 896 gw.