Indian State Of Punjab Plans To Add 2,000 MW Solar Power Capacity

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2 MW solar PV project in Punjab by Azure Power
2 MW solar PV project in Punjab at Awan, Punjab | Source: Azure Power

Indian states seem to have locked themselves in a race to install large capacities of solar power projects. Many states already had ambitious solar power policies before the new BJP-led government came to power, but a number of other states have also joined the bandwagon with plans to install thousands of megawatts of solar power capacity.

The northern state of Punjab, currently ruled by a party that is also an ally to the central government, has announced plans to set up 2,000 MW of solar power capacity, and asked the central government to help it achieve the target.

The need to add 2,000 MW capacity stems from the fact that the state has power demand of 8,600 MW, and has an installed capacity of 2,600 MW. The state utility faced severe power shortage during the summers due to high temperatures and low rainfall. Lower than usual rainfall also meant less generation from hydro power projects, one of the leading power sources for the state. The state will see three thermal power projects commissioned over the next few years, but even the existing thermal power projects in the state are struggling to procure adequate coal supplies, and are operating at levels way below their ideal plant load factor.

The state government is looking for a long-term solution to the power problem through solar power projects. Last year, the state government auctioned 250 MW of solar photovoltaic power capacity. 200 MW of this was in the form of utility-scale projects which were won by some of the leading solar power project developers in the county, while the balance 50 MW were small-scale projects ranging between 1 and 4 MW capacity each. This represents up to $330 million of investment.

Several Indian states are planning to set up solar PV projects with capacities of up to 4,000 MW. However, such a large-scale project may not be possible in an agricultural state like Punjab. India has had a history of socioeconomic problems when it comes to land procurement from farmers. The state and the central governments would look to avoid such problems.

The state government is also planning to set up 100 MW of rooftop solar power projects on all government buildings, and to install 10,000 solar-powered irrigation pumps. The central government, in its recent budget, has announced a funding of about $17 million for such pumps; the Punjab government wants a share in that funding.

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Mridul Chadha

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

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