JODHPUR: Rajasthan is soon set to spearhead the solar energy power production movement in the country. With the proposals worth 56 MW alreadysanctioned and on the stage of tariff finalisation and other 110 MW in the process of bidding, western Rajasthan is going to be the hub of solar energy production by the end of next financial year. Gujarat is also vying to tap the solar thermal potential by developing the Rann of Kutch as the hub of solar energy followed by Banaskantha.
CMD, Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation, Naresh Pal Gangwar, while asserting that the state will soon be the pioneer in solar energy production, said solar radiation is highest in western Rajasthan and according to an estimate, there is a whopping 1.5 lakh MW untapped potential of solar energy in this part. The only snag so far, is the high energy generation cost of this mode. But assured that once the plants start functioning the cost of solar energy will decrease like that of conventional energy — thermal and hydel.
Describing this phenomenon as the “grid parity”, which is expected to be achieved by 2017, Gangwar said the renewable energy sources will get a major boost, thereby discouraging the conventional modes of energy production.
Presently, the process of finalising the tariff per unit is underway for the initial phase of 56 MW to be produced by 11 companies, for which the applications have already been forwarded to Rajasthan Energy Regulatory Commission (RERC). Once this is done, the companies will start setting up their respective plants across the districts of Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur. These plants will be based on different technologies like solar photo-voltaic, solar thermal and thin film etc. and it will be seen in the long run which technology is more feasible to produce low cost energy.
Other two solar energy plants of 5 MW each are also to be set up under a scheme of Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE), the cost of which is expected to be about Rs 15 per unit, Rs 10 of which will be borne by the MNRE and Rs 5 will be borne by the DISCOM in the form of subsidy. Besides this, two more plants of 50 MW each based on the photo-voltaic technology and solar thermal technology are also to be set up through cost bidding by the developers, who will then select the site for the plant.
According to the scientists, the solar energy production is in its early stage of research and the high unit cost of the solar energy is still the biggest impediment in the success of solar energy plants. As a matter of fact, solar thermal potential is highest in Rajasthan but unfortunately, it still remains untapped. Endorsing this, Gangwar said, “This is just the beginning and as time passes by, we will be able to strike upon the ways, by which we can reduce the cost of the solar energy.”
Surendra Mathur, project director in Jodhpur also said the prices of solar cells and other necessary components have seen a fall in the past few years and it is the right time to take the solar energy seriously.
The Central government has set up a solar mission with the targeted solar energy generation of staggering 20,000 MW by 2017 with a major focus on Rajasthan. Now the stress is being laid on the renewable sources of energy as the conventional sources are fast depleting and the government believes that acting now will pave way for more research and technological innovations so as to bring a substantial reduction in green energy like solar and wind.