India is going to be a home to the world’s largest solar power project. It has been finalised that the 4,000 MW project will be set up close to Sambhar lake, about 75 km from Jaipur in Rajasthan. Sambhar lake is India’s largest salt water lake.
A major highlight of the project is that it is expected to sell solar power at Rs 5.50 per unit to power distribution companies, the lowest tariff so far.
The “Sambhar Ultra- Mega Green Solar Power Project” will be developed in the 9,308 hectare area of Sambhar Salts Limited (SSL) which is a subsidiary of Hindustan Salts Limited—a Central public sector enterprise. SSL produces salt from Sambhar lake. “The first phase of the project of 1,000 MW capacity is likely to be commissioned in three years, by the end of 2016,” said Praful Patel, Union minister of heavy industries and public enterprises.
When the 4,000 MW of project is fully commissioned, it will generate 6,000 million units of power per annum. The current installed capacity of solar power is around 1,800 MW. This means a single project will have more than the double the existing installed solar power capacity of the country.
The first phase is expected to be implemented through a joint venture (JV) company to be formed with equity from SSL, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), Solar Energy Corporation of India, Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd, and Rajasthan Electronics and Instruments Ltd. “Based on the experience gained during implementation of the first phase of project, the remaining capacity would be implemented through a variety of models,” added Patel.
Being the first project of this scale anywhere in the world, this project is expected to set a benchmark for large-scale solar power development in the country.
The government is planning to finance a part of the project through viability gap funding—a capital subsidy that bridges the gap between the project cost dictated by the prevailing electricity rate and the price quoted by a developer. National Clean Energy Fund is expected to be used for it. Rest of the amount would be tied up by signing power purchase agreements with power distribution companies.