India paves way for 4 GW scheme

New Delhi-based power plant developer Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has revealed details of its involvement in a planned 4 GW ‘ultra mega solar power project’ in Rajasthan.

Praful Patel, the Indian minister of heavy industries and public enterprises, attended the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Saturday between the six public bodies that will form a JV to develop a project being billed as the biggest single-site solar plant in the world.

The projected scheme would be built across 19,000 acres of land near Sumbhar Lake, 75 km from Jaipur with the initial, 1 GW, phase set to be complete within three years and the remaining 3 GW assembled over subsequent phases.

Although the BHEL press release announcing details of the project on Sunday did not state figures, a report in the Chennai-based Hindu Business Line newspaper, cited by the Steelguru.com website, said BHEL chief executive BP Rao estimated his company’s outlay in the first phase of the project would be around INR7,500 crore (US$1.196 billion).

State-owned plant developer BHEL will supply equipment for the ambitious scheme and will hold the largest share – 26% – of the six-company joint venture (JV) that will be established in New Delhi to oversee the project.

SECI will sell energy from the plant

The second-largest shareholding, 23%, will be held by the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) with the New Delhi based company, owned by the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, selling the electricity generated by the plant.

Indian national grid operator PowerGrid Corporation of India and landowners Sambhar Salts Limited will each hold 16% of the JV with the latter a subsidiary of the state-owned Hindustan Salts Limited, a company established for salt extraction in the region.

Project management on the scheme will be provided by the Shimla-based Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd, a JV between the governments of India and the state of Himachal Pradesh, which will also hold 16% of the JV.

The final signatory to the JV is Rajasthan Electronics and Instruments Ltd (REIL) a co-operation between the national government and that of Rajasthan. REIL will hold a 3% stake in the JV and will provide operations and maintenance.

In a double boost for solar in the country, the Economic Times reported today that New Delhi based plant developer Hindustan Power Projects (HPP) – formerly Moser Baer Projects – will switch its portfolio from conventional energy sources, chiefly coal, to solar.

The Economic Times report quoted HPP chairman Ratul Puri as saying: "With the solar power tariff at a rational level now, this gives us the opportunity to take a more aggressive approach in renewable energy."