Welspun Energy has bettered its own record for the largest solar power project in India as well as Asia that is owned by a single developer. The project has overtaken the Shams 1 solar thermal power project in UAE as the largest in Asia.
The company, which is in the midst of an aggressive expansion in the clean energy sector, commissioned a 130 MW solar photovoltaic power plant in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh last week. The project, implemented under the state’s solar power policy, required an investment of US $177 million (Rs 1,100 crore). The company is expected to sell the power generated to state-owned power distribution companies at a price of US $0.13 (Rs 8.05) per unit.
The power plant is a significant addition to India’s rapidly expanding solar power generation capacity, which stood at just over 2,200 MW at the end of January 2014. The country added 972 MW of solar power capacity during the 12 months prior to February 2014.
The company had commissioned a 50 MW solar PV project in March last year which was the largest solar power project (PV or thermal) in the country. The project was commissioned under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).
In terms of multi-developer projects, Gujarat’s Charanka solar park is the largest project in India. The solar park consists of around 220 MW of solar power projects owned by various companies.
Aggressive Capacity Expansion Plans
Another project of 150 MW capacity is expected to be commissioned soon in the western state of Maharashtra. The project is owned by the state’s power distribution company, which has expressed plans to set up similar projects in the near future. It is noteworthy that Maharashtra is the largest consumer of electricity among all states in India and, thus, also has very high renewable purchase obligation.
The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), which will implement the remaining phases of the JNNSM, is working on an ultra mega solar power project with a capacity of 4,000 MW. The project will be commissioned in phases with the first 1,000 MW capacity expected to be online by 2016. In addition to SECI, BHEL, Powergrid Corporation, Hindustan Salts, and Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Limited will be part of this project. Interestingly, Welspun Energy has expressed interest in developing part of this project as well. The company also signed an agreement to set up a 150 MW solar PV project in the northern state of Punjab.
A slew of large-scale projects may be commissioned over the next 12 to 15 months as six solar thermal power projects with an aggregate capacity of more than 400 MW are expected to be commissioned. These projects, currently facing some delays, were allocated to the respective project developers through reverse auctioning during the first phase of the JNNSM.