In a massive thrust to scaling up solar power capacity in the country, Coal India Ltd and Solar Energy Corporation of India have signed an MoU for development of 1,000 MW solar power projects in a phased manner.

The MoU, signed on October 1, aims to generate 250 MW of solar power in the first phase. The target of 1,000 MW will be reached within three to five years. The projects are going to be set up in solar parks located in coal bearing states.

As per the MoU, CIL will own the solar projects and SECI execute them on turnkey basis. In addition, SECI will undertake the maintenance and operation of the projects on behalf of CIL.

The MoU signed between CIL and SECI is in line with the Centre’s plan to actively involve profit-making public sector undertakings in setting up of solar projects. The projects set up under the CIL-SECI initiative will not only enable the states to meet their Renewable Purchase Obligation mandates but also provide local employment opportunities. Large solar plants have the ability to bring down the cost of solar power through economies of scale.

So far, CIL has installed solar power projects to the tune of 2.2 MW with the objective of curbing carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been encouraging all government owned companies including coal and oil producing companies to install solar power plants. It provides 30 per cent capital subsidy ranging from `27 per watt peak to Rs. 63 per watt peak on the basis of configuration and capacity for installation of solar photovoltaic power plants to various beneficiaries including government owned coal and oil producing companies under the off-grid and decentralised solar applications scheme of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

Under the Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability for Central Public Sector Enterprises, it is mandatory for all CPSEs to opt for one project in each of the two categories of inclusive social growth and environment sustainability. Promotion of renewable sources of energy is one of the options available under the category of environment sustainability.

With a number of PSUs hopping aboard the solar bandwagon in their quest for alternative energy sources, the race for scaling up solar power capacity is steadily gathering pace.

In January this year, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, Solar Energy Corporation of India, Sambhar Salts Ltd, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, Sutlej JalVidyut Nigam Ltd and Rajasthan Electronics and Instruments Ltd signed a MoU to form a joint venture company for setting up an ultra mega solar power project with cumulative capacity of 4,000 MW in phases at Sambhar in Rajasthan on build, own and operate basis.

NTPC, which at present has an installed capacity of 202 MW in solar power, plans to set up a 750 MW solar plant at Rewa in Madhya Pradesh at an estimated cost of over Rs. 5,000 crore. The company is targeting to scale up its solar power generation capacity to 3,500 MW in the next five to seven years.

As part of its green initiatives, the National Aluminum Company Ltd has commissioned a roof top solar system of 160 KWp capacity at its corporate office building in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, and installed a similar system of 100 KWp capacity for buildings inside its township located in the state capital. The company plans to set up a solar power plant of appropriate capacity at a suitable location in the country in order to meet its solar RPO. It is currently engaged in conducting a feasibility study for establishment of a ground mounted and roof top solar power project at the NALCO Research and Technology Centre in Bhubaneswar and also the smelter and township in Angul.

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