The government is working on a policy to promote solar zones where private investors can set up solar energy projects, and will soon tweak the tariff policy to increase the limit of solar power purchased by states, a top official said.Solar zones would be built in areas identified by the government but, unlike solar parks, the responsibility or acquiring land for solar zones would be on the private sector developer, said Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary at the ministry of new and renewable energy.
The government on its part would provide transmission links, information of land availability and faster clearances to projects coming up in solar zones.”The solar zones will help us identify much larger areas for setting up projects and will have potential of setting up big capacities,” Kapoor told ET on the sidelines of Intersolar India, an exhibition and conference for the solar industry, in Mumbai recently. The solar zone plan is likely to be announced within a month and a half, he said.The government plans to increase the renewable purchase obligation limit for solar power by state-run discoms to 8% from 3% now to make it in sync with solar capacity addition.
“We will also launch a second phase of solar park programme,” Kapoor said.The government had launched 25 solar parks, aimed at setting up a total capacity of 20,000 Mw.The second round would be of the same size, Kapoor said.A solar park is typically built by multiple developers. Their output is aggregated and supplied. Recently, SunEdison bagged the deal to develop an entire solar park in Andhra Pradesh, quoting a record bid of 4.63 a unit, lowest ever for the industry.
“Earlier the low bids were restricted to some states and projects, but now we are seeing that across states. The solar tariff could still go lower but we will be comfortable even if its remains stable at 5-5.5 a unit,” Kapoor had said. Some sector experts have opposed the low bids policy, saying it may render projects unviable and that companies may compromise on quality.When asked if the ministry is screening bidders for the quality, Kapoor said, “We are not.”