Amid worsening power situation, Karnataka is turning to solar power to bridge the shortage in its energy demand and supply.Five state-run utility providers in Karnataka signed an agreement to purchase 1,000 megawatt (MW) of solar power from Union government’s Solar Energy Corp. of India (SECI) on Wednesday.The solar power will be just enough to meet the gap between demand and supply of power in normal weather conditions in the state, said Karnataka’s energy minister D.K. Shivakumar.
The agreement will allow the state to get solar power at Rs.4.50 per unit, almost comparable to the rate at which the government buys power from other conventional sources, he said.The move comes at a time when Karnataka, especially its capital city and India’s Silicon Valley Bengaluru, is reeling under severe power shortage.The state has been struggling to meet its total power demand of more than 12,000 MW, of which almost 25% is consumed by Bengaluru, as the supply from its 21 power-generation stations, primarily hydel and thermal plants, was fluctuating drastically with the onset of drought and with reservoirs going empty last year. For instance, they were producing only 3,000 to 4,000 MW daily against a total capacity of 9,021 MW last October, according to the energy department.
As a result, the government had forced some industries to go for a one-day power holiday every week in Bengaluru until recently. The same period also saw long power outages becoming a new normal in Bengaluru, hurting start-ups and people alike, Mint had reported.To be sure, it may take considerable time for the state’s solar plans to materialise. According to government estimates, power will start trickling in from SECI to local utilities within the next 18 months.
The 25-year purchase agreements reviewed by Mint show that SECI, which is dedicated to implement the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and encourage the use of solar energy across the country, has sub-contracted the generation and supply to 10 private companies, providing a viability gap funding of Rs.1 crore per MW. The companies have already identified plots in 13 districts of the state.