The cost to set up a solar plant has come down by almost 30 per cent.
The fall in energy supply from hydel projects coupled with limited supply of coal and gas for power plants has resulted in a power crisis in the State. The industrial and economical growth in Andhra Pradesh has been hit and the State industry has almost come to a standstill. With the operational costs increasing and continuing non-availability of coal, alternate options will be the priority. It is high time for the State to promote alternate renewable energy sources like solar power, with the availability of sunlight for about 330 days in a year.
The cost to set up a solar power plant has come down by almost 30 per cent in recent years. “The off-grid solar plant costs have come down to Rs 180-200 per watt, which was Rs.300 per watt in mid 2009. The grid-based plant costs have come down to Rs.7- 8 crore per MW from Rs.12-14 crore.
“It is predicted that the costs will stabilise at this level with no further drop,” said T Venugopal, executive director, HBL Power Systems. “The solar photovoltaic industry, which is at a nascent stage, is set to grow close to 100 percent each year for the next three to five years.”
Incentives being provided by the Central and State government for grid-connected and off-grid solar plants are helping the industry to grow at robust pace. Of the total power generated by PV installations, about 80 per cent is grid-connected and the remaining 20 per cent is off-grid.
Off-grid power plants are more suitable for rural areas for home lighting, drinking water supply, and solar-powered pumps for irrigation purposes. The off-grid power plants would also be supported by using battery backups for non-sunny hours.
Grid-connected power plants would generate power, which would be directly fed into the grid and the generating companies will sell the generated power to private/public distribution companies at Rs.9 to Rs.12.
Gujarat has shown the direction for the country in promoting solar power projects on a wider scale by laying promoter-friendly incentives and through single-window clearance of approvals for projects. And this has resulted in promoters queueing up to set up solar power plants there.
“The new policy just announced by the AP government is also quite encouraging for the industry with minor changes being proposed by FICII and CII. If everything goes well in implementation, the State will be self-sufficient in solar energy requirements and reach close to Gujarat in terms of production in the next three to five years,” he envisions.
Due to the increasing demand and imposed prolonged power cuts, manufacturing and service industries have realised the importance of captive solar power plants. According to MNRE- Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, the country should be capable of producing 20 GW by 2020. However, so far, we have only touched 1GW.