India: First big ticket solar project goes online

The inauguration of the project was carried out by the state’s Chief Minister, Narender Modi, today among much fanfare.

The solar farm, developed by Moser Baer Clean Energy, an arm of parent company Moser Baer, is first project in the country of this scale. 2,36,000 thin film modules were used in the system, which saw a total investment of €68 million (INR 4.65 billion).

Spread over an area of 305 acres at Gunthawad village in Banaskantha district, the project is expected to generate 52 million kilowatt hours of energy annually – enough power to provide electricity to nearly 50,000 homes. It was awarded under Phase 1 of Gujarat State’s Solar Power policy in 2009 and is the first major project to be commissioned under the Gujarat Solar Mission.

Lauding the support of Gujarat Government, Ratul Puri, chairman of Moser said, "We could not have completed this project in a record time without support and guidance of the state government."

Overall, the company is looking to install 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar in India by 2015. Addressing the press before the inauguration, Puri explained, "The company is working towards commissioning of 300 MW of solar projects in the next 12 months in India, Germany, Italy and the UK. We shall have 100 MW operational capacity by the end of October 2011 and plan to install more than five GW by 2020."

Rajya Ghei, national head of the company, said thin film solar modules were selected as they are best suited to the climatic conditions in Gujarat. Additionally, he said, they are known to generate more electricity than the assured levels.

Leading investment and Advisory firm, Blackstone Group, which invested $ 300 million in the Indian firm last year is optimistic about solar power in the country.

Akhil Gupta, Chairman of Indian arm of the group, commented, "We are excited about the potential of the energy sector as demonstrated by our largest investment in India, a $300 million commitment to Moser Baer Projects. We are happy that in a small way, the solar farm in Gujarat will help bridge India’s energy deficit through generation of electricity from renewable sources."