The board will soon call for tenders from private individuals and corporate houses to buy solar power at a maximum price of Rs 3.5 per unit.
KASARGOD: With the political class failing Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) in meeting its renewable energy obligations set by the Centre, the body is considering to buy solar power directly from the people.
The board will soon call for tenders from private individuals and corporate houses to buy solar power at a maximum price of Rs 3.5 per unit, KSEB chairman and managing director N S Pillai told Express. “The tender will be for 200MW,” he said.
The decision comes against the backdrop of ministers and political parties, particularly the CPM, stonewalling attempts set up solar parks on government land in Kasargod, said officials. An ambitious project to generate 200MW of solar power in district was scaled down to 50MW because of resistance from the party.
To beat the paucity of government land, KSEB organised an investors’ meet for solar energy in Thiruvananthapuram on July 6.
“The solar meet was very encouraging. Private individuals were ready to commit enough land to generate up to 2,000MW of solar energy in the state,” said Pillai. To be sure, 2,000MW can meet the day-time energy needs of the entire state during the monsoon.
The official said KSEB wanted to start with 200MW, and scale up if the model worked out.
According to sources, investors from Kasargod said they could make available 800 acres to 900 acres for solar projects. The meeting was attended by companies such as Hindustan Petroleum, Cochin International Airport Ltd, Mytrah Energy, Solgen, Bosch and Vikram Solar. “They can extend technical support to individuals,” Pillai said.
On its part, KSEB said it would not make any investment in the private park, but would only buy power from them.
Economics of solar energy
KSEB officials said investment in solar energy was a long-term game, with breakeven taking as long as 10 to 12 years.
Around four acres of land was required to generate 1MW of solar power, they said. “Considering the land is free of cost, the private players would have to invest Rs 4 crore to 4.5 crore for 1MW,” said a chief engineer. The central government would be giving a grant of Rs 20 lakh for every 1MW. Considering that the selling price is fixed at Rs 3.5 per unit for 25 years, the investor would break even after 12 years, he said. “Ideally, corporate houses can tap this opportunity,” he said.
KSEB is racing against time to meet its renewable energy target. According to the purchase obligations, KSEB should generate at least 8.5% of its energy from renewable sources by 2022. “And we are lagging big time,” said official.
A proposal to revive the solar park in Paivalige in Kasargod and another plan to set up a 200MW park on the land of Plantation Corporation of Kerala in Cheemeni in Kasargod were pending before revenue minister E Chandrasekharan, officials said.