India’s largest power generation company is planning to set up large-scale solar power parks in the western part of the country.
NTPC Chairman and Managing Director recently told the Press Trust of India that his company is scouting for locations to set up solar power parks in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. While the size of the solar park planned in Gujarat has been finalized, the company is yet to finalize the project size in Rajasthan.
The company is expected to set up a 5 gigawatt solar power park in the district of Kutch, Gujarat. The project shall entail a total investment of Rs 20,000 crore (~US$2.8 billion), and NTPC plans to partner with other companies to implement the project. Kutch is already home to the Charanka solar project, which is the first solar power park in India and was once the largest solar power park in Asia.
Gujarat, as well as Rajasthan, are very intelligent choices for such large solar power parks by NTPC Limited. Both states are pioneers in the development of solar power and successive governments have been very supportive of the sector. Additionally, with several gigawatts of renewable energy capacity already operational in both the state the necessary power evacuation infrastructure is already in place with more expected to be commissioned in the next few years.
In terms of tariffs as well these two states lead all others. The lowest tariffs for an Indian solar power project — Rs 2.44/kWh (3.37US¢/kWh) — have been realized in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The 5 gigawatt solar park in Gujarat would be NTPC’s largest single venture into the renewable energy sector. Once commissioned it would also be the company’s largest power plant and jointly India’s largest solar power park. A 5 gigawatt solar power park has been planned each in Dholera, Gujarat, and Ladakh.
These solar power parks are part of the NTPC’s Corporate Plan 2032, which aims to have 28.5% of the company’s installed capacity based on renewable energy sources by 2032. To achieve this goal, NTPC has set a target to have 30 gigawatts of operational solar power capacity, 5 gigawatts of hydropower, and 2 gigawatts based on other renewable energy technologies by 2032.
If the company does achieve its stated diversification in technology by 2032, the share of fossil fuel-based power capacity would decline from the current 98% to 65%. However, the share of fossil fuel share in India’s overall installed capacity at the end of Q2 2019 was just 63%. It is, therefore, amply clear that the company has been slow in adopting renewable energy technologies and it may now be looking to significantly accelerate the implementation of large renewable energy projects.