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Karnataka to add 1,000 MW of solar power to grid within 15 months

According to reports, the State government has set a target of adding 1,000 MW of solar power to the State grid within 15 months, according to Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar.

Tenders will be called within a week for setting up solar plants with a total capacity of 450 MW, the Minister said at a press conference, here on Thursday, convened to announce that the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry would hold Green Summit–2014 from June 5 to 7 to showcase investment opportunities in the State’s renewable energy sector.

Of the targeted 1,000-MW capacity, about 300 MW would be earmarked for farmers by encouraging them to set up small plants with a capacity of 1 to 3 MW on their farmland. In addition to this, farmers would also be given the option of forming a group and leasing out their land to solar power developers through the government for setting up “solar farms”. The government would not only protect the land ownership of such farmers, but also ensure that they get remunerative rents through cheques, he said.

In the process, the curbs on buying farmland would be lifted for those setting up solar plants, he said. Similarly, the process of converting the land-use pattern would also be simplified for solar plant developers by providing a “deemed conversion” facility for them soon after they buy the farmland for setting up solar plants, Mr. Shivakumar said.

Pointing out that the revised solar energy policy had set the stage ready for encouraging individuals and companies to set up grid-connected rooftop solar units, he said electricity supply companies (Escoms) had been told to buy power from all such rooftop solar units by paying the tariff of Rs. 7.20 a unit for those who have availed of subsidy from the Union government and Rs. 9.20 for the non-subsidised ones.

“Even those having a house on a 30X40 ft site can set up a solar plant on their rooftop and sell the excess power, which is left after taking care of their own requirements, to Escoms. They would have to install a two-way meter which would measure the flow of power in both the directions,” he said.

The Minister said the rooftop solar plants would be promoted in a big way in Bangalore to turn it into the country’s solar city. The solar rooftops would be exempted from the norms related to floor area ratio (FAR), he said.

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