Surat moves towards becoming a solar city

SURAT: The Diamond City will start producing nearly 3.35 lakh units of solar power per annum from next month. Solar roof top panels with a capacity of generating 1,250 kilowatt (kw) are functional at 15 places.

Surat is to become one of the solar cities in India under the solar mission of Union ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE).

Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) started production of solar power last April by installing 500 kw solar panels atop Science Center and has produced 1.35 lakh units of electricity in one year.

Roof top panels have been installed at Katargam water works, eight water distribution centres, Varachha and Limbayat zone office, Narmad library building, SMIMER College and SMC main building at Mugalsarai. Together they have a capacity of 750kw.

“Solar panels at all these places are under the testing phase and will become operative by April 1. The production of electricity from these places will be directly fed to distribution grid of Torrent power which is the energy regulator here. We will be paid Rs 11.57 per unit as decided under MoU with Torrent,” said Jatin Shah, city engineer with SMC. This solar power generation will save SMC nearly Rs 45 lakh.

“We are planning to expand our solar power generation capacity to 3,000 kw by the end of 2015,” said Shah. SMC aims to achieve its goal of producing more than 90 per cent of its energy requirements through non-conventional sources by 2015-16. Industries will have to be persuaded to produce green energy as SMC’s green energy production constitutes only a very small part of the city’s total requirements.

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HCeL proposes 50 MW solar power project in Odisha

s part of its major expansion plan that will see the company heading towards an installed capacity of over 500 MW of solar power generation by the year-end and one gigawatt (1000 MW) by 2016, Hindustan Cleanenergy Limited (HCeL), India’s largest solar power development company, has proposed to set up a 50 MW Grid Interactive Solar PV project in Odisha.

HCeL, a part of Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt Ltd, has to its credit a portfolio of over 300 MW of commissioned solar projects in India and abroad.

The project will bring in a private investment in the state to the tune of Rs. 400 crores, a sign of the state’s ability to attract large scale private investment.

“The proposed project shall not only help the state to mitigate the Solar Purchase Obligation (SPO) as provided by Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC), but would also bring certain benefits to the state. The project will be a milestone in promoting renewable energy projects with sustainable socio-economic development in the state. Besides, it will also open the doors for many other business avenues to explore and venture into,” said a letter of the company to Energy secretary PK Jena.

The company has also proposed to sell power generated from the solar project through a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with GRIDCO, the bulk power supplier of the state, for a period of 25 years at a tariff provided for under the prevailing regulations of OERC.

The tariff offered for the project shall be levelized tariff fixed for a period of 25 years and with the spiraling rise in coal and gas prices it is quite pertinent and clear that the project shall achieve the procurement parity within coming two to three years. Thus in a long run the power will be much cheaper than the conventional counterparts and beneficial to DISCOM, said the letter.

It is to be noted that the company was associated with the 5 MW Solar Farm in Bolangir commissioned in February 2012.

Gujarat imposes ban on power sourcing from other states

Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government has banned state-based companies from sourcing electricity from other states, a move that will compel them to buy costlier power from government-run utilities.

The decision, ahead of the general elections beginning next month, will affect companies across industries such as Reliance Industries, Nirma, Larsen & Toubro, Hindalco, Apollo Tyres, Sun Pharma, Petronet LNG, Gujarat Florochemicals, United Phosphorus and Alembic.

Companies say their costs will rise by at least Rs 2.75 a unit of electricity, as they will have to pay close to Rs 7 for a unit of electricity supplied by state-run utilities, against Rs 4.25 they were paying earlier.

Gujarat-based industries import close to 1,000-Mw power from other states through trade on electricity exchanges, while state-run utilities have almost 2,500-Mw of idle generation capacity.

The decision has come as a surprise for the industry as Modi, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s nominee for prime ministership, has been selling Gujarat’s supposedly industry-friendly environment in his poll campaign.

The government has, however, defended its decision, saying it will help the power surplus state save thousands of crore of rupees every year

“Gujarat has to pay close to Rs 8,000 crore annually as fixed or capacity charges to power producers since it is unable to buy as much power as it contracted,” said an industry expert closely working with the state’s energy department. “Gujarat government disallowed power imports to find market for the excessive electricity generation capacity.”

He said Gujarat also wants to reduce its solar power tariff, since it tied up for about 950-Mw capacity at a higher price, without inviting competitive bids as against the need for 350 Mw to meet its obligations to promote renewable energy.

While most of the industrial units will be compelled to purchase electricity from the state utilities, some are considering using their idle captive power production units.

Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation or GETCO, the state’s power transmission company, stopped industrial houses from accessing grid network within 48 hours of the government directive. The company said the state does not have adequate transmission capacity to import power, especially in summers when demand soars.

“Due to rise in the system load demand, leading to grid constraint in the upstream network, it shall not be feasible to permit short-term open access to consumers as per enclosed list with effect from March 20,” GETCO said in a letter to over 125 industrial units on Tuesday. “However, distribution company will cater your contract demand from the generation at their disposal.”

An office bearer of a south Gujarat-based industrial association said: “Immediately, demand for power on electricity exchanges went down by at least a million units and it is expected to fall further, while our energy costs will go up by 25%.”

A majority of the industrial units in Gujarat manufacture energy intensive chemicals, petrochemicals, glass, ceramic and pharma products. “We cannot compete in international market with higher energy costs,” the industry association representative said, adding that industrialists will make a presentation to the government in a couple of days.

Tata, Welspun, Essel Power bid for Mahagenco’s 50-MW solar plant

Maharashtra State Power Generation Co. (Mahagenco) has received expressions of interest from Tata Power, Welspun Energy and Essel Power to set up a 50-MW solar plant on public-private partnership (PPP) model at Shirsuphal in Baramati district.

Mahagenco has planned to set up a 50-MW solar project in Baramati on a public-private partnership basis, in which the power producer will have to build, operate and maintain the plant for 25 years and even share revenue with the state power generation company.

“This is for the first time that we are trying out this model. We have so far received three bids from Tata Power, Welspun Energy and Essel Power,” Mahagenco managing director Asheesh Sharma told PTI.

On the revenue sharing model, Mr Sharma explained, “The producer will receive a revenue share over a period of 25 years based on the Merc approved tariff. This revenue share between the bidder and Mahangenco will be discovered through the bidding process.”

For the project, Mahagenco will arrange land, get necessary approvals and distribution infrastructure.

“Under this model, Mahagenco will pay Rs. 3 crore per megawatt as its contribution till the commissioning of the project. Once the project is commissioned and revenue starts generating, the developer will have to share some percentage of the income with us, which will be decided later,” he said.

Mahagenco’s investment into the project would be financed by the Asian Development Bank. Deloitte is advising Mahagenco to develop the bidding process.

The state power generator has built solar capacity of 125 MW at Sakri, Dhule district, and plans to add another 25 MW there.

“We wish to take the capacity in Sakri to 150 mw from the current 125 mw. We expect to add 25 mw in the next three-four months,” Mr Sharma said.

“If the new PPP model is successful, we will then look at setting up another 200-250 mw capacity by FY15.”