Experts claim that though the price of solar power has fallen considerably, the government has continued to pay 2010 rates to the private firms.
The Gujarat government, which has promised to buy solar power from farmers at a maximum rate of Rs 7 per unit under Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) launched last June, purchased 52 per cent of solar power from private entities such as Adani and Tata firms at a much higher rate of Rs 15 per unit during 2013-18.
Gujarat produced over 8,275 million units of solar power between 2013 and 2018, as per data submitted in a written reply by Energy Minister Saurabh Patel to Gujarat Assembly in September 2018. During this period, 4,322 million units of power — which accounts for 52 per cent of the total production in the state —was bought by the state government entity, Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL), at a rate of Rs 15 per unit from 42 different entities as per Power Purchase Agreement (PPAs) signed with them.
The highest quantum of solar energy of 304 million units was bought from Adani Power Limited. The quantum of annual solar power purchased from the Gautam Adani-owned entity rose by 18 per cent, from 61 million units in 2013-14 to 72 million units in 2017-18. Besides, the GUVNL bought 217 million units from Tata Power Renewable Energy Limited and 213 million units from Roha Dyechem Private Limited at similar rates. The GUVNL also bought 207 million units of power from Sunland Real Estates Pvt Ltd at a rate of Rs 13.59 per unit. During this five-year period, the lowest rate at which solar power was purchased was Rs 3.22 per unit in 2017-18 — 6 million units of power from SJVN Limited, a public sector unit under the Ministry of Power. The same year, 334 million units of power was bought at the rate of Rs 4.50 per unit from Solar Energy Corporation Of India Ltd, a company of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
K K Bajaj, a veteran energy expert in Gujarat, says that at a time when the per unit cost of solar power in the state has fallen to as low as Rs 2.63 per unit, most of it currently purchased by the government belongs to the PPAs of 2010. “Yesterday (Tuesday), I wrote to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani asking him to reconsider the old PPAs. If PPAs can be altered to increase power tariffs to Adani Group, should there not be a mechanism to decrease them as per existing market conditions,” asked Bajaj. He pointed out that cost of installing 1 MW of solar power has fallen to Rs 5-6 crore from Rs 15 crore in 2010. In the past five years, there has been about 50 per cent increase in solar power production in Gujarat.