Gujarat has released its land policy for renewable energy projects, which seeks to set up wind parks and wind-solar hybrid parks in the state, similar to solar parks. Such parks will be a first by any Indian state.
The new policy is a welcome development for wind developers who want to set up their projects in Gujarat. Land had lately been a bone of contention between them and the Gujarat government, with the latter reluctant to lease land for wind projects auctioned by central agencies like the Solar Corporation of India (SECI), while providing such land for similar projects sanctioned by the state agency,
Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL). Many developers, who had won SECI projects and intended to set them up in Gujarat – which has some of the best wind energy producing sites in the country – found themselves stuck as a result. Gujarat officials had stated that leasing of land would resume once the state’s land policy on the matter had been finalised.
The government has clarified that henceforth all Central projects will have to be built inside these parks. “All future solar, wind and solar-wind hybrid projects will be subject to this,” a top official said.
A total area which can accommodate 30,000 MW of renewable energy will be sanctioned for these parks, with each park large enough to install a minimum of 1,000 MW. (Of the 30,000 MW, 10,000 MW will be set aside for projects initiated by state PSUs.) “We will decide the exact location of the parks in consultation with developers,” the official said. “The idea is not to have projects dispersed all over the state, with wires running everywhere. Evacuation will also be easier.”
A high powered committee (HPC) of 11 members, chaired by the chief minister, is also being set up to take the final decisions on where the new parks should be and how much land should be allotted to each. “For allocation of park to the developer, HPC will consider its financial strength, its turnover in the renewable sector, net worth, production capacity, technical capability, experience, manufacturing base in Gujarat, investment in Gujarat, experience in the energy sector other than the renewable sector,” the land policy says.
Wind projects need around 0.75 acres per megawatt, while solar projects require 5-6 acres. But sites with wind speeds high enough to produce power are limited. Gujarat, which already has a number of solar parks, is keen that the new parks come up mostly in the Kutch area.
About 7,000 MW of wind projects were auctioned by SECI last year of which half are expected to be set up in Gujarat. Some of these had been allotted land sufficient for building only a part of their projects, not the entire size won. Their developers are not sure if they will now be required to relocate. “While the policy speaks of plans for future projects, what will happen to old applications at various stages of approvals?” said a developer, on the condition of anonymity.
“We have set out our policy and it is up to developers to decide if they want to come to us or not,” the official said. “SECI did not consult us while auctioning wind projects. The developers’ problems are not ours.”