Chandigarh: Punjab is giving a major push to solar energy with projects being allocated for generating solar power to the tune of 1,550 MW with an investment of Rs 12,000 crore, the state’s New and Renewable Energy Minister Bikram Singh Majithia said here today.
“In 2012, we had 9 MW of solar projects involving an investment of Rs 70 crore. In just three years, we have allotted 1,550 MW of solar power projects with an investment of Rs 12,000 crore, creating employment avenues for 10,000 youths,” he said at a press conference here.
Companies like Adani, Welspun, Essel, Azure have invested in the field of solar power projects in a big way, he said.
“No other state in the country has been able to achieve such a level of growth in such a short time in solar projects,” Majithia said while attributing the interest of project developers in the state to transparent regime of SAD-BJP led government.
“The most interesting part of solar power policy of Punjab is that right from farmer having land holding of four acre to multinational companies including Adanis, Welspun, are equal partners in the solar revolution being ushered in by tiny state having 2 per cent geographical area of the country,” the minister said.
The solar policy for farmers has been made which was welcomed by small farmers having land holdings on the borders or in the unproductive areas, besides marshy land and water logged areas of Malwa and Majha regions.
Giving details, Majithia said in the first tender in 2013, the government got bids for 269 MW and 25 projects of 188 MW have already commissioned with an investment of Rs 1,800 crore.
Similarly for the second tender of 250 MW in December 2014, bids for 389 MW were received out of which 24 projects of 228 MW are set to be commissioned by January 31, 2016 with an investment of Rs 1,700 crore, he said.
The third tender of 500 MW was floated in June 2015, for which the government got bids for 1650 MW and these projects with Rs 3,000 crore investment could be commissioned by January 2017, he said.
Majithia said Rooftop Gross Metering tender for 100 MW received encouraging response and this project with Rs 400 crore investment would be operational by March next year.
The minister said for canal top solar gross metering, 5 MW project with Rs 200 crore investments would be commissioned by March 2017.
For the farmer solar scheme gross metering tender, the government received applications for 629 MW and these projects with Rs 3,000 crore investment would be operational by March 2017.
Majithia said farmers owning such land holdings were suffering due to its non-productivity, meager contract value and were happy to become partner in a scheme in which he was assured regular income for next 25 years with 5 per cent annual increase, besides assuring his majority partnership in the project.
He said such was the encouraging response to the farmer scheme that against the tendered capacity of 500 MW, the government has got firm commitment of 629 MW.
He said that he would soon hold an interactive seminar with all such budding farmer investors to guide them to opt for the right equipment and right technology and to sail them through teething troubles of project management.
Majithia said he was happy that enterprising farmers of Punjab have opted for a novel way of diversification that would be copied by farmers of other states.
“In years to come, solar power will be cheaper than the thermal generated energy,” minister said.
Highlighting the keen interest of NRIs in solar energy projects, he said that NRIs have made Rs 655 crore investment for 91 MW whereas foreign investors have invested Rs 562 crore in 79 MW projects.
Similarly investment of Rs 687 crore was made in border districts area 97 MW solar power plants.
Punjab government is giving incentives like no registration fee stamp duty on purchase/lease of land for solar projects.
On biomass power, he said that the department has already taken up tenders for projects for 200 MW. The “lesser” tariff remains a challenge for setting up new biomass projects in the state, he said.
“Two years back, rates for biomass energy were very good and a lot of people showed encouragement..Then a debate started that rates need to be increased. Rates are not decided by Punjab government. It is decided by government of India,” Majithia said.
Rates were required to be hiked in the wake of costlier plant and machinery, rupee devaluation against US dollar and increase in fuel cost, the minister said.
The tariff rate for biomass projects has increased to Rs 7.86 per unit from Rs 6.94 per unit which would encourage more people to invest in biomass projects which would help in solving the problem of residue burning in the state, he said.
At present, 63 MW of eight biomass projects are in the state, he said.