India considers new PV support scheme for state-owned companies

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Representatives of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) have discussed plans to introduce a separate policy support scheme for Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) interested in developing their own solar PV projects.

Many of India’s leading PSUs (essentially state-owned companies) are cash-rich and keen to develop their solar footprint, said a representative of the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and, as such, may require policy support that goes beyond the current 50 MW to 100 MW capacities that most projects are eligible for.

"There is a lot of interest [among PSUs] and these are cash-rich companies, so there is a proposal for a separate scheme under which public sector companies can invest," said SECI’s senior manager for PV, Bharath Reddy. “However, discussions are still in the early stage.”

Large Indian PSUs include ONGC, BHEL and NTPC – each of which has revealed grand PV plans recently; plans that are likely to dwarf the 100 MW top-end capacity for projects by private power producers.

"PSUs can be a great push for solar," said Refex Energy Ltd’s MD, Anil Jain. "With the kind of balance sheet and bandwidth they have, they can set up big plants in the range of 500 MW to 1 GWW in a short space of time.

"Many of the PSUs and other government entities are sitting on huge land banks and utilizing them for setting up solar power plants can be a great idea."

Activity so far is restricted to talk and initial draft planning, but the appetite is most certainly apparent. NTPC Ltd – the largest power company in India – has 100 MW of solar PV capacity at the planning stage, and is targeting 1 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2017.

In Rajasthan, the biggest PSU project in the country – a 4 GW solar PV installation – involves six of India’s largest state-owned companies, including BHEL, PGCIL (the Power Grid Corporation of India) and SECI.