Sunny days ahead for Farmers,Punjab

India has been facing severe power crisis due to sharp increase in demand with economic growth, shortage of coal, &huge losses in transmission and distribution. In order to mitigate this demand-supply gap coupled with international pressure to reduce emissions, the country has been exploring alternate renewable sources of energy.

Punjab is one of such states that has actively participated in contributing towards solar energy generation. Punjab, an agricultural based state, located in the Northern part of the country is blessed with abundant sunshine with over 300 sunny days in a year. This state has a huge untapped potential of generating around 2810MW of solar energy.

Punjab in doing its bithad issued the New & Renewable Sources of Energy(NRSE) policy in 2006 under NSSM which has been revised in 2012 with a target to achieve 1000MW of installed solar capacity by the year 2022. The Punjab Energy Development Agency adopted a phased approach to meet this target of 1000MW. The state had allocated 300MW capacity of solar projects under Phase-I while an additional 250MW has been allotted under Phase-II.

Projects under phase-1 were categorized into two having allotment of 50MW and 250MW in category-I and category-II respectively.

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While the aggregate 250MW of grid connected solar projects in phase-II  has been divided into three categories as under:

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In either of the three categories only one project shall be allocated to a bidder / company.

A cumulative of 195.02MW solar power projects has been achieved till 31st March 2015 under the two phases of the NRSE(New & Renewable Sources of Energy) policy 2012.A total of 24 successful bidders were requested to give proposals,16 of which were  received for category – I project, 5 for Category – II projects and 3 bids were received for category – III projects.

The phase-II allocations managed to get a total commitment for 234 MW of 250MW till 10th Feb 2015 majorly from winning bidders like Acme, RatanIndia, Solaire Direct & Azure who quoted a net tariff  between Rs 7.33/kWh& 7.45/kWh for category-I, Rs 6.88/kWh to Rs 7.41/kWh for category-II and Rs 6.88 to Rs 7.56 for category-III.

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While 251MW of solar projects have been allotted under phase-I of the scheme with Welspun, Moser Baer, Essel and Azure emerging as the major winners. The net tariff quoted was between Rs 7.20/kWh &Rs 8.71/kWh in category-I, while in category-II it had been quoted between Rs7.67/kWh and Rs8.74/kWh under this phase of the allotted solar projects.

phase-i tariff

Even with initiatives like rooftop solar and net metering policy in the state, there still exists a wide gap between the state’s solar energy potential and the installed capacity. The PEDA has launched a draft farmer scheme for allocation of 500MW of solar power projects to land owning farmers on 1st April’15 to promote solar power projects in the rural areas. These solar projects would help in reducing transmission and distribution losses which are predominantly incurred in supplying power to these remote areas. Of the 500MW, 100MW has been reserved for allotment to land owners belonging to women or backward classes.  Under this scheme, farmers or a group of farmers who have been in possession of agricultural land in the state of Punjab for the past 3 years are eligible to apply  for setting up a solar power plant of capacity at least 1MW to a maximum 2.5 MW depending upon the extent of land available. The solar PV projects shall act as a micro distributed utility enabling agricultural pump sets to be run during the day time. The farmer shall enter into PPA for 25 years for sale of power to PSPCL at the generic tariff level as determined by PSERC on signing the Implementation Agreement.

For more information refer the draft scheme.

The government of Punjab has an uphill task ahead to achieve its solar energy capacity target of 1000MW which can be achieved only through a coordinated effort between PEDA and the state government with adequate financing and a conducive atmosphere to promote capacity addition.

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