A 125 MW solar thermal power plant has become the largest concentrating solar power (CVP) plant in the world to be approved to earn carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The project is part of India’s famed National Solar Mission program which aims to add 22 GW of solar power capacity by 2022.
The project is owned by a subsidiary of Reliance Power, part of the huge Reliance ADAG conglomerate. The project developer secured the right to set up the project through a round of competitive bidding during the first phase of the National Solar Mission in 2011. Of the 125 MW capacity, only 100 MW has been contracted by the central government, while the balance is expected to be sold to private utilities. The project developer claims that the project can generate up to 280 GWh of electricity every year and can offset over 2.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over a period of 10 years.
A total of 470 MW of solar thermal power capacity was distributed in the competitive bidding. So far only one project of 50 MW capacity has been commissioned. All other projects, including this 125 MW project, are behind their commissioning schedule and are expected achieve commercial operation by March 2014.
The project secured finance from the US Export-Import Bank and the Asian Development Bank, among other development banks.
Compact Linear Fresnel Reflective technology, supplied by AREVA USA, has been used in the project. The reflectors focus the solar radiation to an overhead pipe that contains a heat-absorbing fluid. This fluid transfers heat to water, producing steam to drive a steam turbine which in turn is connected to a generator.
The project will be selling power from the 100 MW block at Rs 11.97 (around $0.20) per kWh. The total project cost is estimated to be Rs 158 crore (~$29 million). Once commissioned, the project will be the largest solar thermal power plant in India as well as Asia, overtaking the recently commissioned Shams 1 solar power plant in UAE.