Madhya Pradesh state of India aims for the world’s cheapest solar power at Rs 5 per unit

Recently, we have seen many efforts of private and public sector companies for cheaper solar power in India. Mainly, Acme Cleantech Solutions Ltd. and Mytrah Energy Ltd. emerged as the top winners in bids to build 2,000 megawatts of solar farms in the southern state of Telangana.   

Together, they reaped 763 megawatts of contracts. Acme won contracts to build 436 megawatts of projects including a 335-megawatt plant at a tariff of 5.82 rupees a kilowatt-hour in the utility-scale category and 111 megawatts at a tariff of 5.88 rupees for smaller “distributed” units, said the company’s founder Manoj Kumar Upadhyay. “Global competition is keeping us on our toes for profitability,” he said.  

Wind energy company Mytrah sealed a deal for 327 megawatts at a tariff of 5.75 rupees, of which 150 megawatts is under the utility-scale category, said Vikram Kailas, the company’s managing director. “This win is in line with our strategy of diversifying into solar and is a huge responsibility,” he said.  

The result showed progress in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal to install 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022 in order to expand India’s electricity production while limiting pollution. The country currently has 4 gigawatts of solar capacity or 4,000 megawatts. A gigawatt is about is as much as a nuclear reactor produces.  

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File photo (Image source: The Hindu)  

Now, Madhya Pradesh is set to be home to the cheapest solar power not only in India but the entire world, finally offering a cost-effective alternative to environmentally-harmful thermal power. Companies that have bid for projects floated by the Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company are ready to sell solar energy to the state for as little as Rs 5 per unit for a period of over 20 years. According to energy experts, the offer is lower than the global average price of Rs 6.10 per unit and even beats the cost at which the Delhi government buys from thermal power companies.  

The price of solar power has seen a global decline in the last few years with India too witnessing a dramatic fall – fastest in the world – since 2010 when the Jawaharlal Nehru Solar Mission was launched. A unit of solar energy cost Rs 17 then. The plummeting prices can be attributed to an increase in Chinese export of low-cost photovoltaic cells that have in turn led to an 80% drop in prices of solar panels over the last five years. Also, the efficiency of the panels to convert solar energy into electricity has improved from 13% to 18%, resulting in cheaper power.  

India is a major investment destination for major international and domestic energy firms with Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing a five-fold increase in the target for generating solar power to 100,000MW. All state governments revamped their solar energy policies to meet the new target and Madhya Pradesh was the first to announce the setting up of special solar energy parks with single-window clearance.

A senior official in the Madhya Pradesh renewable energy department termed it the beginning of a new trend which could witness the price of solar energy falling further at a time when thermal power continues to get costlier with an increase in prices of coal.  

“What has happened in India in the solar sphere in five years took 15 years in Germany,” Christian Redl of Agora Energywende, a German energy think tank, had told this correspondent during a visit to Germany in May this year.

According to Arunbha Ghosh, chief executive officer of the Delhi-based Centre for Energy Environment and Water, solar technology is seeing a major transformation across the world. “Solar is for energy what internet is for communication. In coming years, you will see solar energy run-equipment in homes like computers,” he said. (Source: Hindustan Times)


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