India’s federal government recently gave the go-ahead for development of the country’s largest solar power park in the state of Gujarat.
The Times of India recently reported that the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) had approved the establishment of the 5 gigawatt Dholera solar power park. The project will be largest solar power park in the country and the first in Gujarat after the Charanka solar park that had been established under the state policy.
Approval from MNRE came just days after Gujarat Chief Minister announced that his government would set up the solar park. “The (government) Of Gujarat is happy to approve the establishment of India’s largest Solar Park in Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR). The 5000MW Solar Park would be a giant leap towards fulfilling the ambitious goal of PM Sh @narendramodi to create 175GW of Renewable Energy by 2022,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had announced on Twitter on 10 April 2018.
Rupani also stated that the park would be spread across 11,000 hectares area and would attract investment worth Rs 25,000 crore ($3.70 billion). The first tender for the solar park is expected to be floated next month.
The decision to set up this new solar park comes nearly a decade after Gujarat started working on India’s first solar power park at Charanka. Today, Charanka hosts a large portion of Gujarat’s 1.2 gigawatt operational solar power capacity. What prompted the Gujarat government to establish a solar power park of this size after a gap of so many years? We asked an experienced professional in the Indian solar market.
“Under the 8% solar RPO target prescribed for all states, Gujarat should have an installed capacity of 8 gigawatts by March 2021-22, so the state has a lot of catch-up to do. Despite being the pioneer in solar power development in the country, Gujarat now lags behind the likes of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and neighboring Rajasthan.”
“Dholera is being developed as a Special Investment Region and several foreign companies — like Airbus and Lockheed Martin — have expressed interest in setting up manufacturing units in this region. Any upcoming infrastructure will require power supply, and solar and wind energy are currently among the cheapest sources of power in India. Tariff bids for both are currently below Rs 3.00/kWh (4.0¢/kWh). Thus, the Dholera solar park fulfills Gujarat’s regulatory as well as economic obligations and requirements. Additionally, Gujarat hasn’t had a good experience dealing with private thermal power developers and has seen sharp decline in state thermal power supply in the past few months.”
Apart from the Dholera solar park, Gujarat is also working on two more solar parks with a combined installed capacity of 1,200 megawatts. Dholera is likely part of the revamped solar park policy announced by the Indian government, wherein the planned capacity addition was increased from 20 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts.