India is targeting 100 GW of solar by 2022, out of which 20
GW has been allocated to solar parks. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
(MNRE) is considering increasing the capacity to be developed at solar parks to
40 GW. Currently, there are 34 solar parks planned across 21 Indian states, where
projects aggregating 20 GW will be set up. However, project development is
being hampered by delays relating to infrastructure and site preparation
Project developers are citing issues including, lack of access
roads, clean green lands, and clear demarcation of land areas in these solar
parks. Officials at government agencies, on the other hand, are pointing out
that development of solar parks is in its early stages and state nodal agencies
are working to resolve issues as they arise.
All 34 solar parks have received in-principle approvals. Under
the guidance of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), in some states,
the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), has formed joint ventures with
state renewable energy agencies to construct these solar parks. In Arunachal
Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu &
Kashmir, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand,
and West Bengal, state nodal agencies are also the implementing agencies. The National
Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is overseeing the construction of solar parks
in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
The government’s rush
to auction projects in these parks ahead of completing land acquisition
formalities has led to project developers winning bids but finding
infrastructure not ready to start construction. In some cases, such as the
Pavagada, Charanka and Kadapa solar parks, bid-submission deadlines for tenders
have been repeatedly extended.
issues around solar parks are typical to the Indian solar sector,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom
Capital Group. “Most policies are well-intentioned
with top-down goal setting, but the problem usually is on the execution side.”
A developer involved in the recent auctions for projects in
solar parks said the positives are that the infrastructure promised for solar
parks is ideal for international investors and the bidding process is
transparent. On the other hand, “infrastructure
is not even close to being complete.” The
government is in a hurry to invite tenders even before they have completed land
acquisition which ends in a delay of four to five months before the auctions
happen. Developers, meanwhile, are paying for park infrastructure that is
non-existent. Much of the infrastructure is being built parallel to project
construction and will be complete when projects are close to completion, which
doesn’t help the developers. After
paying steep park fees, developers are having to build parts of the infrastructure.
“We cannot wait for roads to get built;
there are going to be evacuation issues with each of these parks.”
There are trees that need to be cut and ground levelled in
order to start construction work. There is no road access and transmission
lines need to be removed to start work, commented another developer.
Project economics are sensitive to delays in project
commissioning. Developers are in some cases incurring expenses to clean the
land, build roads, and still waiting for power to be evacuated after
commissioning. All of this can seriously affect project costs and profitability.
In Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, there are delays in getting
the land. Park infrastructure is not ready and the power evacuation facility at
the Pavagada solar park is inadequate. There are also complaints of evacuation
delays in the Kadapa Solar Park in Andhra Pradesh, where the engineering,
procurement and construction (EPC) bids are out.
parks are huge projects and these problems are minor when you look at the
capacity that will be achieved; it has just been two years since we ventured
into solar parks,” commented a SECI official. Nodal
agencies are resolving these issues at the ministry-level to fast-track solar
An official at Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation said
that the only delays were issues relating to developers approaching them late. “On our part there have been no delays."
An official at Andhra Pradesh Solar Power Corporation (APSPCL)
confirmed that the Kurnool solar park has been completed and that infrastructure
is under development in other solar parks in the state.
the park development is in progress and we intend to have infrastructure ready
before we invite tenders so that the developers can construct projects without
any hurdles or delays,”
commented an official at Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam (MPUVNL).
The MNRE has requested that the Principal Secretaries and
the Chief Secretaries of State Governments take up necessary action for speedy
implementation of solar power projects so that solar targets are achieved on
time. “The MNRE is having regular review
meetings with state governments and solar power park developers to ensure the
timely completion of solar parks,” stated
Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of Power, in a Lok Sabha session.
parks cannot be completed within days. A lot of planning is required; problems
will come up but we are here to handle them,”
commented an MNRE official.