Slow pace of grid links irks solar developers
Trouble may be brewing in Rajasthan, the state with the largest installed solar power capacity in the country, over the pace of providing grid connectivity for new plants.
Solar developers are irked over what they allege is the reluctance of the state distribution company to grant them grid connectivity as readily as before.
The Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam (RVPN), however, denied this and said such decisions are determined by factors such as plant location and network capacity and proximity. The standoff may threaten Rajasthan’s leadership in solar power generation and its target of achieving 25,000 MW of capacity to harness energy from the sun.
The desert state gets the most solar radiation intensity in the country and had an installed capacity of 1,264.35 MW, or about 22% of the national total, as of March 3.
“Rajasthan’s solar programme began six years ago and we never had any problems until the attitude of RVPN suddenly changed three-four months ago,” said a leading developer who did not want to be identified. A flashpoint was reached over a tender for 230 MW of capacity floated by NTPC.
Bidders had to provide a guarantee from the discom that grid connectivity would be given promptly once the plant was ready. Prospective bidders sought grid connectivity from RVPN within 13 months since NTPC solar projects had to be commissioned within that period. However, the discom refused to give such an assurance, saying the state allowed 24 months for large projects to be completed and it wanted a similar duration.
“Developers have to submit the connectivity letter from RVPN at the time of financial closure,” said Sunil Bansal, general secretary of the Rajasthan Solar Association, a group of developers. “Failure to submit it can be treated as failure to meet financial closure and the company’s bank guarantee could be encashed.”