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Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra top states with maximum capacity approved for solar parks
Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan have topped the list of states with maximum solar power generation capacity approved under solar parks in India, according to fresh data of total 26,449 Megawatt capacity projects released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
Experts say commissioning this mammoth renewable energy capacity under the approved 45 solar parks spread across 22 states would broadly require investments in a range between Rs 1 lakh crore and over Rs 132,000 crore. The list features solar parks of varying size ranging from the smallest parks in Meghalaya and Mizoram with 20 Mw capacity each to the biggest solar park, Dholera in Gujarat, with 5,000 Mw capacity.
Gujarat’s total capacity of 6,200 Mw is distributed across 3 solar parks; Rajasthan’s 4,331 Mw capacity comes from 6 parks; while 4 solar parks account for Andhra’s 4,160 Mw total approved capacity. Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have 570 Mw and 2,570 Mw approved capacity, respectively. Also, 7 of the 45 parks have capacity exceeding 1,000 Mw.
A solar park is a concentrated zone of development of solar power generation projects and provides developers an area that is well characterized, with proper infrastructure and access to amenities and where the risk of the projects can be minimized. The solar park scheme also provides for reduced number of statutory approvals to facilitate faster and easier development.
Given the large land requirement, around 4 acre per Mw, for execution of solar projects, there are inherent execution challenges related to land acquisition which vary across states, apart from issues of inadequate transmission connectivity.
"As a result, efforts both from central and state governments are required to enable and co-ordinate with nodal implementation agency of a solar park, especially for land acquisition and transmission connectivity, in a time-bound manner so that solar projects of larger size can be attracted through bidding route in such parks,” said Girishkumar Kadam, Vice President and Sector Head of Corporate Ratings at ICRA. “Certainly, states with vast arid land having better solar radiation resources like Rajasthan, have relatively better potential for large-sized solar parks," he added.
Another expert said the overall target set for solar capacity addition under the solar park scheme is very ambitious. “But it has become the hallmark of the current government when it comes to solar capacity aspirations. It seems capacity allocation has been influenced by both level of irradiation and past performance of these states in promoting solar capacity. The government should ensure that adequate evacuation capacity is provided on time for these parks apart from payment security for supply,” said Abhishek Poddar, Partner-Asia Pacific at consulting firm ATKearney.
Kadam said setting up 26,449 Mw capacity of solar power projects would require investment of around Rs 1 lakh crore, translating into Rs 3.7 crore for each Mw capacity. Poddar, however, said the investment could be upwards of Rs 5 crore per Mw. The government has set an ambitious target of 175,000 Mw of total renewable power generation capacity by 2022, including 100,000 Mw from solar projects.