India is on the verge of finalizing plans to build one of the world’s largest solar PV plants. The state government of West Bengal has proposed to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) a site near the Purulia Pumping Storage Project (PPSP) as a suitable location for the creation of a 250 MW, $365 million solar PV project.
Land availability and funding issues will be tackled once the MNRE has been given licensing go-ahead by the Ministry of Commerce, with West Bengal power minister Manish Gupta revealing that the project has "been agreed in principle" and that the biggest hurdle now facing the state is land.
The 250 MW project would require 700 acres of land, and Gupta who addressed a collective of solar power experts and energy advisors at a seminar organized by Ashden India Renewable Energy Collective on Tuesday is confident that the proposed site at the PPSP location will be approved.
"There are some matters regarding the location that have to be decided," he said. "The project will be either at PPSP at Baghmundi or at Thurga, which is located nearby. A detailed project report in being prepared."
In terms of funding, West Bengal state hopes to secure grants under the national clean energy fund in order to execute the project, and state officials are confident that both the monies and the land agreement will be forthcoming without any further hitches.
Gupta’s government put forward the PPSP site because it is close to a natural source of water and covers massive stretches of otherwise barren land. "The plan is to pump the water through solar power. Once this happens, the site will become a complete natural water pumping system using water and solar power," said Ashden India Renewable Energy Collective chairman, Gon Chaudhuri.
The Ashden Collective also revealed plans to prepare a rooftop solar power policy for the city of Kolkata, with funding already prepared and high-level discussions at an advanced stage.
India’s solar targets have been difficult to pin down in recent months given the change in leadership and proposed tariffs against imported U.S. and Asian solar equipment. Yet largely, the scope is to add masses of GW of solar PV capacity over the next decade, with the government committed to reaching 20 GW of grid-connected solar power by 2022.
The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission bolstered India’s PV capacity by 1.68 GW during phase 1, and phase 2 is now underway, promising to add more than 5 GW of capacity over the coming years.