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Solar power plants to come up at coal-based project sites

According to reports, with some of the state power generation utility’s proposed coal-based projects not likely to be logistically viable, the Maharashtra government is planning to use the land meant for these projects to generate solar energy. The state is also planning a 4,000 MW pithead-based power plant near a coal mine allocated to it at Chhattisgarh to meet the state’s future energy needs.

“The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (MahaGenco) had planned a few projects at sites like Dondaicha, Bhusaswal and Nashik. However, despite this, there are no proper coal linkages for these power plants. Land acquisition has been completed but the high transport cost for coal to be supplied to these projects is a problem,” state power minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule told dna.

“Hence, we are planning solar power plants there instead of keeping the acquired land vacant,” added Bavankule, stating that the plan also included sites at the location of their thermal power plants like Parli. These proposed solar power projects will generate an estimated 250 MW, the minister said, adding that projects like Dondaicha had no proper coal linkage.

“The cost of transporting coal to these proposed projects is huge. It will lead to a unit of electricity costing Rs4 as against Rs3 per unit of merchant power purchased from the open market,” noted Bavankule, adding that this lack of viability had prompted them to consider solar power projects at these sites instead of coal-based thermal power. “Power projects must be put up where raw material is available,” he stressed.

Bavankule said they had been allocated a coal mine in Chhattisgarh with a 27 MMT per year capacity. “We have taken possession of the mine and production can start in two years,” he added, stating that they were planning a 3,000 to 4,000 MW pithead-based power plant at this mine to meet the state’s electricity demand from 2020-21 onwards. The coal could also be used to meet the needs of new generating plants at Koradi and Chandrapur.

The MahaGenco too has commissioned around 180 MW solar power projects and plans to take it to around 450 MW by the end of 2015-16 financial year, which is one of the highest by state utilities. This includes the proposed solar power projects at Kaudgaon, Sakhri, Gangakhed, Yavatmal and Parbhani.

In November 2014, it commissioned a 50 MW grid connected solar power project at Baramati on a public private partnership (PPP) basis. This project is expected to generate 83 million units of power annually. The MahaGenco also has two projects of 5 MW and 1 MW each at Chandrapur and a 125 MW facility at Sakri in Dhule, which is the largest in the country.

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