The central government has sanctioned three solar ultra mega power projects in the state. One of them will come up in Vidarbha while the other two will be in Marathwada and Khandesh. An eleven member committee under principal secretary (energy) had been set up to identify the sites for these plants. A Mahagenco official said that the installed capacity of each of these plants would be 500MW. “The central government has set a target of generating 1.75 lakh MW through new and renewable energy sources by 2022. Of this the share of solar power is 1 lakh MW. The state government has therefore decided to increase solar generation in the state,” he said.
The state government had announced an integrated non-conventional energy policy in July 2015. It had set a target of creating 7,500MW solar capacity by 2020. “The central government has announced a solar ultra mega power project policy under which the agencies setting up such plants will get a large number of incentives. The state government sent a proposal for setting up three such plants of 500MW capacity, which has been approved,” he further said. According to the official the biggest challenge before the state government was providing land at affordable rates to the private investor. “A 500MW solar plant will require 2,500 acre land and hence the land cost is an important parameter. The committee headed by principal secretary (energy) will select the sites keeping this factor in mind,” he added.
The other members of the committee are: Director general of Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA), managing directors of MSEDCL, Mahatransco and Mahagenco, etc. The state government is promoting solar energy in a big way. It has allowed private individuals and organizations to set up solar power plants in their premises for their own consumption. Under the solar roof top grid connected policy, the consumer can get both solar and MSEDCL supply. The government is providing solar agricultural pumps to farmers where power infrastructure is not available. It has now decided to set up dedicated solar agricultural feeders for catering to between 800 and 1,000 farmers. The cost of solar power has come down sharply in last ten years making it affordable.