Crashing solar tariffs crush storage plans
NEW DELHI: The steep fall in solar tariffs may have delighted discoms and other power consumers, but it is also having unintended consequences. Last week, it forced the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) to cancel two tenders it had announced last year which were to include storage capacity for the first time in India.
One disadvantage of both solar and wind power is their ‘erratic’ or ‘infirm’ nature — they are available only when the sun shines bright or the wind blows above a certain speed. To provide uninterrupted power, storage batteries are required alongside the solar or wind farm, but such batteries do not come cheap.
Experts estimate their cost at around $450 per kwH — thus including storage adds considerably to the cost of a project and pushes the tariff up. None of the solar plants operating in the country so far include storage, but transfer all the power they produce immediately to the grid. Thus they are able to supply power for a maximum of only around 12 hours a day.
In August last year, SECI announced for the first time two solar auctions which would include storage — 200 MW at the Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka and 100 MW at the Kadapa Solar Park in Andhra Pradesh, both under Phase II of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.